A literary tour de force of a detective's ceaseless hunt for an elusive criminal
By Gaslight is a deeply atmospheric, haunting novel 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 ten 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.
Price's elegantly written, vividly evoked second novel (after Into That Darkness) marries historical suspense with literary sophistication. In 1885 London, a woman's dismembered body is identified as that of Charlotte Reckitt, a longtime grifter for whom two very different men are searching. William Pinkerton, the 39-year-old son of American detective-agency-founder Allan Pinkerton, is struggling to accept his larger-than-life father's recent death. Along with the agency, he has inherited the elder Pinkerton's obsession with Edward Shade, an elusive master criminal his father could never apprehend. Having received a letter from Reckitt requesting his help, thief and confidence man Adam Foole hopes to reunite with Charlotte, the lover he lost 10 years before but hasn't forgotten. Both men are obsessed with getting to the bottom of Charlotte's apparent demise: Pinkerton because he believed she could lead him to Shade, Foole because he harbored tender longings for her. As the two circle each other, each probes his own past and both realize they are more similar, and more closely connected, than they believed. 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.