I am not a Wilkie Collins fan, but since I seem to be on a Victorian mysteries kick, and I liked the subtitle, I downloaded the book for a cozy sit-in-bed-on-a-blustery-winter-day read. I imagined all sorts of thing beforehand, but nothing close to the actual convoluted plot. I understand now that Wilkie Collins loved the twists and turns, the coincidences, and expected the reader to be a generous co-conspirator in suspending all belief. And so I did.
The heroine, while depressingly sweet and honorable, actually did possess a spine, and the hero did not turn out to be too remarkably stupid. The mystery, with its supernatural elements, was perhaps a bit lackluster but doubtless sensational when published. Wilkie Collins sounded like he was having fun with it all, which was good enough reason to keep reading. My favorite quote came early in the book, in the description of Countess Narona:
“. . . . she was of middle height, and (apparently) of middle age–say a year or two over thirty.”