Theorists of detective fiction usually discuss the genre’s interest in the discovery and expulsion of a crime, perceived as a foreign element which has invaded a secure community or family. While this tendency is apparent in The Moonstone, one of the genre’s founding texts, a contradictory impulse runs equally strongly through the novel, one with profound implications for the security of the Victorian family. For The Moonstone is, to a great extent, motivated by an impulse to secrecy, not to tell, to cover up family’s complicity in crime. Franklin Blake’s editorial strategy seems designed to this end: he has chosen witnesses loyal to the family, unreliable as observers (Gabriel Betteredge remarks, “It is one of my rules in live, never to notice what I don’t understand”), and often monomaniacal to the point of selective blindness (Collin 75). They are, singly or together, almost incapable of telling “the truth.” But the impulse to conceal is built as well into the very material of the novel, Collins’s most important source for The Moonstone, the Road murder case of 1860, which remains unsolved today.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1993 AMS Press. This article first appeared in Victorian Literature and Culture 21 (1993), 127-145.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.