It must have been in the late 1950s when I read The Moonstone. I remember little about it except that there was water (a pond, I thought - actually it's the ocean), a gem (the moonstone of the title is not a moonstone; it's a diamond) stolen from an Indian statue; a team of Brahmins who are trying to reclaim the stone, and the mysterious disappearance of the diamond early in the book.
The story is told by a series of narrators who speak of what they know first-hand, starting with Gabriel Betteredge, Lady Verinder's steward/butler, a wily old man, deeply loyal to the Verinder family, much respected by the family and the other servants, and by the detective, Sergeant Cuff, who is called in to help find the diamond.
The second narrator, a poor relation, Miss Clack, is as smug and self-focused as any character I've seen since Bruce in The Little Ottleys. (She capitalizes Me in her narrative.) She is a hypocritical evangelical who can rationalize her selfish behavior no matter how bizarre and is insensitive to the people she is attempting to proselytize. Fortunately, most of the time she is also hilarious.
We also hear from the hero of the story, Franklin Blake, and from the family solicitor, the village doctor's assistant, a world traveler (who bears a good deal of resemblance to Richard Burton), and Sgt Cuff. Each has a piece to add to the puzzle but it is only at the very end that we are able to see the entire picture. Meanwhile there are half a dozen dramatic discoveries that re-route the plot in unlikely directions.
Wilkie Collins wrote some 30 novels and twice that many short stories. The Moonstone belongs to the genre called sensation novels, which were popular in the mid-to-late Victorian era, as do some of Collins' other well-known novels like The Woman in White and Armadale. The exciting plot elements in these novels make them hard to put down and their clever denouments make them satisfying to the casual reader. Collins was a close friend of Charles Dickens and the complex plots are reminiscent of Dickens' novels.
The plot of The Moonstone hinges in part on the opiate, laudanum, a drug which Collins began taking at about the time he was writing The Moonstone (1868) and to which he was addicted for the last years of his life.