Published in 1868 as a magazine serial, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is English literature's first mystery story and still one of the best. The story is told by several different narrators who, according to the framing story, have been asked to write down their involvement by the hero.
Lovely young Rachel Verinder recieves an unexpected and (to her mother) unwelcome 18th birthday present from her late uncle, the family Black Sheep. Mr. Murthwaite, a famous explorer and one of the party guests, tells Rachel and Mrs. Verinder that the large yellow diamond was stolen from a Hindu idol 20 or 30 years before and that the Indian 'jugglers' who entertain the party are nothing of the kind but, most probably, Hindu priests trying to regain their sacred stone. That very night, the diamond disappears.
Rachel has two suitors, both her first cousins, Godfrey Ablewhite and Franklin Blake, staying in the house. It soon becomes clear that she suspects Blake of being the thief. The detective called in on the case, Sergeant Cuff, on the other hand, suspects Rachel herself, along with one of the maids, who has a criminal background. The true solution proves to be much more complex than either theory, involving several parties, all with their own unconnected motives.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Rosanna Spearman
- She is also a Hopeless Suitor
- And Another Thing: One of the Indians visits the offices of a couple barristers merely to form an excuse to ask one final question before leaving.
- Babies Ever After
- Black Sheep: General Herncastle, Rachel's wicked uncle.
- Broken Bird: Rosanna Spearman of course, but also the unlikeable Miss Clack.
- Book Ends: The prologue and epilogue are set in India, depicting the theft and restoration of the Moonstone.
- Call to Agriculture: Sergeant Cuff retires to cultivate roses.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Dr Candy and Ezra Jennings
- Crime Reconstruction: Used to figure out what happened to the Moonstone.
- Fair for Its Day: The portrayal of the Indian jugglers.
- Hidden Villain
- Holier Than Thou: Miss Clack
- How Did You Get It?: The Moonstone is pawned to a moneylender. His first question is "How did you come by this?" and he refuses to lend anything until he's got a truthful answer.
- Kissing Cousins: Both of Rachel's suitors are her first cousins.
- Lazy Bum: Mrs Ablewhite.
My Aunt Ablewhite is a large, silent, fair-complexioned woman, with one noteworthy point in her character. From the hour of her birth she has never been known to do anything for herself. She has gone through life, accepting everybody's help, and adopting everybody's opinions.
- Lemony Narrator: Gabriel Betteridge
- Living a Double Life
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Explorer Mr. Murthwaite is clearly based on the adventurer Richard Burton.
- Old Retainer: Gabriel Betteridge
- Quicksand Sucks: The Shivering Sand. Dangerous, but not an impossible trap. It's used by a certain character to hide an incriminating piece of evidence, using a locked box and a chain, and to commit suicide.
- Red Herring: Innumerable!
- Red Right Hand: Rosanna Spearman, ex-thief and maid, is a hunchback. Ezra Jennings, who has a dark secret in his past, has piebald hair. Neither are bad people, and the true villain is handsome and healthy.
- Scrapbook Story
- Shout-Out: Betteridge believes that Robinson Crusoe contains all of the world's wisdom.
- Spirited Young Lady: Rachel, maybe even a Tsundere.
- The Stakeout: Probably the earliest example, making this trope much Older Than Television
- Switching POV
- Taking the Heat: The two main suspects (both female) turn out to have been independently covering for the same man, whom they both love, after seeing what each believes to be proof that he stole the eponymous gemstone.
- Twist Ending: Another very early example.
- Ur Example: Famously described by TS Eliot as "the first and greatest of English detective novels".
- Wham Chapter: The revelations from Rachel and (posthumously) Rosanna regarding the thief's identity.