By Gaslight

  • by Steven Price
  • Narrated by John Lee
  • 23 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A literary tour de force of a detective's ceaseless hunt for an elusive criminal.
By Gaslight is a deeply atmospheric, haunting audiobook about the unending quest that has shaped a man's life.
William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of the most notorious detective of all time, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead on the fabled con Edward Shade. William's father died without ever finding Shade, but William is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.
Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair 10 years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London to find her. What he learns of her fate - and its connection to the man known as Shade - will force him to confront a grief he thought long buried.
A fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and séance halls ensues, creating the most unlikely of bonds: between Pinkerton, the great detective; and Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.
Steven Price's dazzling, riveting By Gaslight moves from the diamond mines of South Africa to the battlefields of the Civil War on a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our darker selves.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Empurpled and Histrionic Prose to No Effect

Steven Price would have benefited greatly from an exacting editor, one who might have shorn this huge, lengthy and ultimately unrewarding novel of its unnecessary length and made it into something of interest. That Price has done a great deal of reading and research as to the Civil War and late Victorian England is readily apparent, though like so many novelists writing historical novels, he goes to great lengths to rub our noses in the milieu, unnecessarily and ultimately, tediously.

The great weakness of this novel, however, is the author's deep dive into the emotions and sentiments of its characters which becomes uninteresting and suffocating all too soon. Price is interested in impressing us with the titanic emotions of his characters, their gigantic suffering, their endurance in the face of unremitting adversity, etc. The men are all manly men who walk the streets with clenched teeth and murder in their eyes! Tiresome. Would that the author have paid greater attention to his plot and its development!

It would take too long to detail all of the non sequiturs of the novel, though the main one, a detective's hunt for a thief his father had never been able to find is resolved by the disclosure at the end of the novel that the father had known of the thief's whereabouts all along and had really been protecting him out of his fatherly love for the younger man. If so, then why would the father have advertised his search for the man over the decades following the Civil War? The answer is that the author didn't bother to think it through. Other examples of this kind of non sequitur abound in the novel.

Making everything far worse in the audiobook edition of this novel is the pompous and sententious narration provided by John Lee. No line is spared a dramatic flourish, no word an unnecessary emphasis. This book would not have been half so tiresome as it was had the narrator simply dialled his empurpled narration style down to something more normal.

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- Karen

Heavy damp reading

What made the experience of listening to By Gaslight the most enjoyable?

Setting in time and place and the believable way the charters were drawn.


What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

By the end I did not care I just wanted it to end.


Any additional comments?

This book drags on and on. Well written enough to keep me plugging away at the book but I would not recommend it to any of my friends. I felt that the author needed to go on Prozac and do a rewrite.

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- Cynthia K.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2016
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio