A deeply atmospheric literary tour de force with a cast of unforgettable characters, By Gaslight is the remarkable story of one detective's ceaseless hunt for an elusive criminal.
London, 1885. A woman's body is discovered on Edgware Road; ten miles away, her head is dredged from the dark, muddy waters of the Thames. Famed detective William Pinkerton had one lead to the notorious thief Edward Shade, and now that lead is dead. Determined to drag Shade out of the shadows, Pinkerton descends into the seedy underworld of Victorian London, with its gas-lit streets, opium dens, sewers and séance halls, its underworld of spies, blackmailers, cultists, petty thieves and pitiless murderers.
Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. Returning to London in search of his lost beloved, his journey brings him face-to-face with Pinkerton, and what he learns of his lover's fate will force him to confront a past - and a grief - he thought long buried.
Epic in scope, brilliantly conceived and vividly atmospheric, By Gaslight is a riveting portrait of two men on the brink. Shrouded in secrets, betrayals and deceptions, this is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.
‘Steven Price has taken a long, complex, but utterly compelling 19th century story and applied the rules of modern mystery writing to it. The result is something unique. But is his gift for unravelling this terrific yarn, in a literary style often reminiscent of William Faulkner, that makes this stand out from the ordinary…[a] darkly mesmerising tale worthy of any of the great Victorian thriller writers'.
‘Entertaining…as vast as the three-decker Victorian novels it so cleverly echoes'.
‘For long winter evenings…By Gaslight seems like an excellent choice'.
‘Guaranteed to grip.'
‘Rich in characterisation and description as well as evidently well-researched material.'
‘Reads like a resurrected Conan Doyle has created a high-quality thriller for a Sky Atlantic series… breathtakingly atmospheric.'
‘A formidable mystery.'
‘I found myself returning to passages . . . because I wanted to revisit the somber music of the telling. . . Spinning fiction out of fact, Price creates an evocative world, cast not in shades of stark black and white, but rather in morally complex herringbone . . . [R]aw and beautiful . . . always expressing the complexities of the human heart. . . By Gaslight can be seen as Arthur Conan Doyle by way of Dickens by way of Faulkner. Intense, London-centric, threaded through with a melancholy brilliance, it is an extravagant novel that takes inspiration from the classics and yet remains wholly itself.'
‘Canadian poet Price turns to fiction with this lively visitation to the foggy streets of Victorian Blighty…the story is utterly Sherlock-ian - read Moriarty for Shade and Irene Adler for Reckitt - and postmodernly so, full of sly nods and winks and allusions. If it is derivative in the bargain, Conan Doyle by way of Nicholas Meyer and Benedict Cumberbatch, then Price's yarn is also a lot of fun. Fans of steampunk and Victorian detective fiction alike will enjoy Price's continent-hopping romp in time.'
‘A postmodern take on noir mysteries…The real highlight of the novel, though, is the mesmerizing writing style, which is difficult to decipher but lyrically rewarding and intensely evocative of setting and character. Intense, frustrating, and magical, this fragmented, paradoxical suspense story will appeal to particular readers who love Dickens or who relish the complexities of Martin Seay's The Mirror Thief and David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.'
‘Steven Price has done a daring thing: taken a long, complex, but utterly fascinating 19th Century crime tale and applied to it the rules of modern mystery writing. The result is something unique, but it is his gift for unraveling a terrific yarn, in whatever manner, that shines through. Do not be daunted by length: give this book a try.'
‘Price's naturalism is unsentimental, adding verisimilitude to a book already thrumming with emotional and psychological realism. The author's blend of quest, grief, betrayal, and the mysteries of identity will appeal to readers of literary crime fiction'
‘Price's elegantly written, vividly evoked second novel marries historical suspense with literary sophistication…With its intricate cat-and-mouse game, array of idiosyncratic characters, and brooding atmosphere, By Gaslight has much to please fans of both classic suspense and Victorian fiction. Yet Price's novel is entirely contemporary, and assuredly his own: a sweeping tale of hunter and hunted in which the most-dangerous pursuer is always the human heart.'
‘By Gaslight is Steven Price's extraordinary historical novel, finely written and deeply researched, about the period just following the Civil War, the son of America's most famous detective (Allen Pinkerton), and a cast of truly powerful characters, half-mad and all dangerous.'
‘This sweeping tale of the unforgettable William Pinkerton and Adam Foole thrusts the reader into smoky Victorian London with all its grit and glitter. Uniting the literary grace and depth of William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy with the intrigue and momentum of a Sherlock Holmes story, By Gaslight is completely absorbing - an epic, brilliantly written novel to rank with the world's best.'
‘This darkly mesmerizing tale is worthy of the great Victorian thriller writers, but Steven Price brings to his prose a sensibility and dazzling skill all his own. The gruesome, eerie events that unfold during the search for Charlotte Reckitt are given enthralling life in a book that is perfectly grounded in period and rich in incident and image. Haunting and deeply satisfying.'
‘A dark tale of love, betrayal and murder that reaches from the slums of Victorian London to the diamond mines in South Africa, to the American Civil War and back. Superb storytelling.'
‘A poetic, persuasive pea-souper. Think Dickens with Maigret's whiskers.'