My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read this just about every decade of my life since I was in high school. It is one of my favorite books. I can actually remember some of the mental images of people and scenes that I laid down in that Sorry about that; the image can’t be replaced.
Collins has created some incredible characters that seem to have lives of their own. Gabriel Betteredge, the head steward and his love of Robinson Crusoe is unforgettable. He is the first narrator and sets the stage. Drusilla, the super Christian with her endless supply of religious tracts, is the one you love to hate. Sergeant Cuff is the premier detective who loves roses and is farsighted to keep notes his own conclusions even if no one believes him at the time. And then there is Ezra Jennings, a man so battered by misfortune who is so appealing and yet tragic. Interestingly enough, I find the side characters more compelling than the main characters, especially Rachel. Franklin Blake also could have been developed better, especially in the early chapters.
The plot is so convoluted, that it’s a book that can be read again and again. I get confused when I read it again after 10 years or so and I am constantly wondering is this the thief or is this the person I thought might be the thief? I say convoluted advisedly. It isn’t just a plot devise, the mystery is so complex it is hard to follow at times, but the random clues and dead ends are actually part of the solution.
This book goes on the top of my list for all time favorite mystery books.
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