By Gaslight

By Gaslight

Book - 2016
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"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"-- Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, [2016]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780374160531
Branch Call Number: Fic Pric
Characteristics: 731 pages ; 24 cm


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sapl3 Apr 09, 2020


This atmospheric tale of loss, obsession and revenge takes us from the diamond mines of South Africa, to the crowded streets of Victorian London and the battlefields of the American Civil War. It is 1885 and William Pinkerton takes up the search for a man who eluded his famous late father for so many years – the infamous Edward Shade. But Shade proves to be as shadowy as his name suggests and there are those who maintain that he doesn’t even exist.

Adam Foole, a gentleman con-man and thief, returns to London in search of a lost love who he learns, has a tenuous connection to this same man, Shade. Slowly their stories begin to converge and both men are thrust together in an unlikely bond.

Price’s brilliant writing allows our senses to smell the decay and stench of the streets and sewers of London, to see and feel the grit under the fingernails of the poor and downtrodden, and to hear the incessant sounds of war on the battlefields of America. This is a novel of epic proportions and leaves the reader in awe of the ability of this writer to create such a stunning work of fiction.

Jan 13, 2020

Incredible book. Incredible writing. The reach of the book is extremely broad. This may be its only weakness, but it's also its greatest asset.

Dec 05, 2019

I listened - or started to listen - to the audio version of this book so the lack of punctuation which aggravated reviewers on other forums did not bother me. The narrator was very good, but the story itself seemed bogged down in description and detail. I suspect good editing would have kept the story moving along at a more reasonable pace.

Mar 25, 2019

I love this book. Could not put it down. Wonderful to get rid of punctuation that blocks the flow. For the serious reader, a lovely pleasure.

Aug 20, 2018

The author’s descriptive writing style makes the setting of the book—VIctorian England—a very real place for the reader. And while the mystery presented in the novel is interesting enough some might find this book difficult to get through. The story is very long and drawn out and the characters are not the most engaging. However, the book does offer a in-depth historical view of the time.

Apr 17, 2018

This is a long, dense book, packed with atmosphere and plot. It is rich and detailed. It needs to be read slowly and thoughtfully. If you are not a patient reader, this may not be the book for you. If you are a patient reader, you will be rewarded with an incredibly well written story that takes you back and forth in time and sends you to the mines of South Africa, the battlefields of the Civil War and the streets of Victorian London. The story fits together chapter by chapter and even paragraph by paragraph. (The minimal use of punctuation is a bit annoying, but you adjust to it soon enough) It will take you a long time to get to the end of this book, but when you get there you will be sad it is over.

Dec 30, 2017

This is a very well written book, aside from the lack of punctuation and the story is complicated as it jumps around in time and often you have to read a while to see which character you are reading about. The protagonists, however; I did not find engaging and I soon tired of all the characters. A bit shorter of a book would have been better as there were pointless and too long scenes. I usually love this type of book as I could not put down The Luminaries, but not this one.

Dec 28, 2017

This book runs to 731 pages, spanning 4 continents over a period roughly from 1848 to 1885, along with a brief epilogue set in 1913. As a rule, I avoid "sweeping" epics, usually finding them to be long-winded and self-indulgent, in need of some judicious editing. And yet at no point did this book seem long. Every page held my attention throughout. Price combines the social insight of a Charles Dickens, the gritty realism of a David Hosp, the storytelling scale of a Guy Vanderhaeghe. He conjures up 1885 London in all its filth, misery, poverty and chaos; choking in its own effluent, shivering in its grimy winter fog. The stink of the place oozes out of the pages. Sweatshops, slaughterhouses, taverns, all heated and powered by coal; half-lit, muddy streets beset by hordes of ragged urchins, sailors, whores and beggars. Prices's two main protagonists, the relentless Pinkerton and his elusive quarry Shade drive the narrative: Love, treachery, loyalty, loss, vengeance; the very stuff of life.
Regarding price's style: His rich, free-flowing language bears the mark if a poet. The total absence of quotation marks is at first disconcerting. But one becomes accustomed to it and I discovered that the effect was to blend dialogue seamlessly into the stream of narrative.
Price has a remarkable facility for conveying the ambiguities of human motivation and relationships. Although there are certainly crimes committed here, there are neither pure villains nor admirable heroes, just imperfect humans who fall victim to their own misplaced loyalties and stubborn passions. Highly recommended!

Apr 23, 2017

A VERY large book. Too heavy for me to hold.

minerva Mar 23, 2017

This seems to be a novel for those that like stylish writing; I found that I was not engaged by the characters, and so I just wasn't interested in reading only for the style. I did want to like it, possibly I'm an impatient reader...

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SPL_Brittany Sep 19, 2016

London 1885. In a city shrouded in fog and darkness, William Pinkerton, son of that famous detective, descends into the sordid underbelly of Victorian London in pursuit of the elusive Edward Shade - a thief, a con artist, an echo of a man who may never have existed. Still reeling from his father's death, William, in pursuit of a new lead, travels through London's murky sewers, opium dens and séance halls determined to drag the man 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 in search of her and meets the famous Mr. Pinkerton. What follows is the story of unlikely 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.

This is a perfect fall read for anyone who is looking to envelop themselves in an historical thriller spanning five decades and half the world. Epic and dark in its tone, readers will enjoy immersing themselves in the less savoury world of Victorian London, its dark alley ways and grimy characters, enjoying the novel’s many twists and turns.

This book has also been long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.


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