The Moonstone is considered by many critics to be the very first detective novel written in English. It saw the light of day back in 1868 and is constantly being named as the best novel by Wilkie Collins. In this book, the author talks a lot about the social problems of his time, so, in a way, it's like the perfect "time machine" into the 19th-century England. The main character, Rachel, is a young lady who inherits a huge diamond from India on her 18th birthday. It's a gift from her uncle, an army man who obtained it in an illegal, criminal way. He killed some innocent people to acquire it during the war with India. It's incredibly valuable, partially because it holds great religious significance for the Indian people. So, 3 Hindu priests decide to bring it back - by any means necessary. Rachel throws a huge party for her birthday and wears the moonshine for her friends to see. However, later that night, somebody steals the precious diamond and a cycle of chaos and confusion quickly follows.
The Moonstone's story is told by several narrators and is focused on the main character's determination to find the thieves, trace the stone and bring it back. As far as English detective novels go, this one is right there among the very best and will keep you guessing and second-guessing to the very last page.
Wilkie Collins managed to create a fascinating, gripping plot, while still making sure that the book is easy to read and understand even if you've never been a fan of detective novels. It's got some supernatural elements in it as well, which makes it that much more entertaining and unpredictable.