cover image By Gaslight

By Gaslight

Steven Price. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (720p) ISBN 978-0-374-16053-1

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. (Oct.)