A literary tour de force of a detective's ceaseless hunt for an elusive criminal
London, 1885. Three years before the Whitechapel killings, London is a city of fog and darkness. A severed head is dredged from the Thames; ten miles away, a woman's body is discovered on Edgeware Road. The famed American detective William Pinkerton is summoned by Scotland Yard to investigate. The dead woman fits the description of a grifter Pinkerton had been pursuing for a long time--someone he believed would lead him to a man he has been hunting since his father's death.
Edward Shade is an industrialist without a past, a fabled con, a thief of other men's futures--he seems a ghost, a man of smoke. The obsessive hunt for him that began in the last days of the Civil War becomes Pinkerton's inheritance. What follows is an epic journey of secrets, deceit, and betrayals. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Shade, the one criminal he cannot outwit.
Steven Price's By Gaslight is a riveting, atmospheric portrait of a man on the brink. Moving from the diamond mines of South Africa to the fog-enshrouded streets of Victorian London, the novel is a journey into a cityscape of grief, trust, and its breaking, where what we share can bind us even against our better selves.
“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.” —Alan Furst, author of Night Soldiers
"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."—Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist
“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.” —Jacqueline Baker, author of The Broken Hours
“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.”—Marina Endicott, author of Close to Hugh
“A poetic, persuasive pea-souper. Think Dickens with Maigret’s whiskers.” —Anakana Schofield, author of Martin John
“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.” —Kurt Palka, author of the Piano Maker