"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."
I read this from the public library and loved it. There is a gentle love story, and a theme of the difference in the lives of people at different ends of the same country--leaving one social class and moving down a bit to another. "Cranford," which was on PBS, was by Elizabeth Gaskell. The characterization in this book is not as full as in that, but the characters are sympathetic, and Gaskell explains the parson's dilemma and how it changes his family's situation, very well. Basically, recommended!