Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
This has to be one of the more sensational of the sensation novels, or maybe I just haven't read enough of them yet to get used to the Gasp! Drama! It's full of drama/angst all of which went on much longer than I wanted it to. I didn't realize quite how long the novel was when I started it, but I guess I'd have read it anyway since it's on a lot of those "must read" lists you find all over the internet. I did consider not finishing it, but by that point in the story I really wanted to see the villain get her comeuppance.
Said villain is Lady Audley, aka Lucy Graham, aka Helen Talboys. As Lucy Graham she marries the rich Lord Michael Audley without bothering to tell him about George Talboys, the husband she already has. George left his wife and child in England to seek his fortune and returns unexpectedly causing a big problem for Lady Audley. He meets up with her, confronts her with her lies and is - cue the creepy music - never heard from again.
George's friend, Robert - also coincidentally an Audley, and even more coincidentally the nephew of the same Lord Michael Audley - decides he won't stop till he learns the truth about what happened to his friend. He starts by talking to George's father and sister and poking around in the area where his missing friend disappeared. He has his suspicions about Lady Audley but he needs proof before confronting her. Motivated considerably in his quest by his attraction to George's sister, he talks to servants and assorted other people until he finally can't hold back anymore and he demands Lady Audley confess to killing her first husband.
The investigating went on and on with various stories and histories being drawn out at great length to inform the reader how the characters and their doings are all connected. I found it a bit tedious, but I won't go so far as to say I didn't like it. I enjoy the old-fashioned writing, if not so much all the drama, and it was a pretty good story. I think more editing would have helped but all in all, it wasn't too bad.