Saturday, 18 April 2009

Lack of Mystery and Intrigue

Have finished The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

I suppose I am comparing this (what is hailed as) the first mystery novel with Conan Doyle's work. The Sherlock Holmes author was witty, quick, clever, and kept me guessing and interested throughout The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Collins' work bored me. I felt I knew the outcome of the novel from around page 50 (of close to 400!) I found the prose to be lacking in substance and rather patronising at times.

I suppose to put the book in context would be fair - it was the first of its genre - an out and out whodunit. I think that Dickens had already started this trend in a much subtler way with novels such as Bleak House, which contained a detective mystery within a love story, a social commentary and much else.

According to the introductory notes, Collins was somewhat of a protege of Dickens' before branching out on his own. I know I'm biased, as Dickens is one of my favourites, but he shouldn't have tried to outmaster the master.

Not holding out much hope for The Woman in White, the other Collins novel on the list.

Have already started The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - and enjoying it so far.


  1. Interesting comments--you are a budding 19th cen. scholar, you know! :) I would like to read some detective fiction, but, it'll be a few years.

  2. There are LOADS of nineteenth-century novels on the I guess I am!

    The "Crime" section of the Guardian list has lots of detective fiction, most of it much more recently published. Will be interesting once I get into that. :)

  3. Delurking to say I'm reading and enjoying the blog. I wish I had more time to read but I'll have to stick with vicariously reading through you for a while! Keep it up!!