The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Reading Wilkie Collins was a revelation to me. How could I have taken so many English Lit. classes and not read this guy?
This one starts out with a simple mystery: What happened to the missing jewel? Well, it takes lots of narrators to reach a conclusion, and we get quite a ride along the way. The strength of the book lies in the variety of narrative voices and the rich, compelling characters.
Collins is both a brilliant writer and a brilliant storyteller. Inventive, compelling, insightful, and always interesting, this is a great read and a superb example of the Victorian novel.