Collins' most financially successful novel, The Evil Genius, opens with a jury determining the fate of a sea captain whose ship allegedly facilitated a diamond theft. The story develops into a powerful novel of Victorian private life, including deception, adultery and divorce. An "evil genius" is threatening to rip apart the fabric of the Linley home. Who is it and why? Is it the orphaned young governess for whom the father lusts; the brother-in-law who appears to help everyone, but succeeds often in making things worse; the meddling mother-in-law whose good intentioned interferences lead to greater heartache; the disloyal father, or perhaps the unassuming daughter?