If you've read some Dorothy L. Sayers or Margery Allingham mysteries set in the English countryside, or Ngaio Marsh's English country life mysteries, you will be reminded of some of the scenes with locals. Some of it went over my head, but a lot of it was humorous, mostly in a gentle tweaking way.
On or about page 55, there is a short "Wessex novel" which is a satire on Thomas Hardy's work. If you recall any of them from school, you will enjoy this more. When you find out the main character's name--very funny. And it spoofs Hardy's LONG descriptions as in a scene where the young heroine looks out over the land and sees "a procession making their way over the parched fields (two pages of field description omitted--Editor).'
"To say this book was overly verbose would be an understatement."
Ah. Welcome to the writing of Henry James. They call his style "figure in the carpet" writing because he would describe EVERYTHING in the setting all the way down to the figure woven into the carpet on the floor.
This is an important story for the way it describes contemporary life. Though the story seems racist to some readers, Twain is really just explaining some home truths about the birth and lives of slaves and the value placed on these people by their "owners" or their "family." (There was an afterschool special of this story, with Ken Howard as the lawyer.)
I second these comments:
"Hanaud is not particularly impressive or likeable as the detective. All the characters are cardboard cutouts and not believable as real people."
". . . what really happened is unveiled only later: a remarkable story which fits perfectly in the esoterism craze of the early 20th century."