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By Gaslight

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,039 ratings  ·  568 reviews
A magnificent literary historical-suspense novel in the tradition of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, and Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, By Gaslightis destined to be one of the most acclaimed and talked-about books of the year.

London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only
Hardcover, 731 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by McClelland & Stewart
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Amy Yes - Read the first two chapters, and you'll be hooked.…moreYes - Read the first two chapters, and you'll be hooked.(less)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  3,039 ratings  ·  568 reviews

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This is an outstanding piece of historical fiction but it is one that demands commitment from the reader. It is a long read at over 700 pages long and it is not fast paced. It is a book that needs to be slowly savoured for its beautiful and atmospheric writing, so a reader needs to relax and settle into it. It is set in 1885, in a dark, smoke ridden, foggy London with its biting poverty, dirt, stink, gaslights, opium dens and the underbelly of the criminal underworld referred to as the flash wor ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally bought this book because of the cover. I mean look at that cover. It had this backstreet London/Victorian feel to it. When The Chunksters Group picked this as their first quarter read I thought it was the perfect opportunity to read. The schedule was to read about 40-60 pages a week. I completely failed at this schedule. I ended up switching to the audio, narrated by the very talented John Lee. There are a ton of details and the story moves back and forth in time, the only way I cou ...more
Erin Clemence
I received this novel for free from Goodreads. Special thanks to Goodreads and the publishers.
“By Gaslight” is, by all measure, a police crime novel. There is a detective, a mysterious woman, and a shady criminal. The only difference in “Gaslight” is that it also includes opium dens and horse-drawn carriages, which was par for the course in 19th century London.
“By Gaslight” has two protagonists- William Pinkerton, the detective who has been seeking notorious criminal Edward Shade, following in
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, can-con, arc
My Mister Porter used to say, Ever day you wake up you got to ask youself what is it you huntin for.

You can certainly tell that Steven Price, author of By Gaslight, is a poet as well as a novelist: not because his writing is florid or artsy, but because his word choices are just so precise; his descriptions evocative; his sentences rhythmical, punchy, masculine. In this historical epic, we readers are deposited in the filth and muck of the 19th century, witness to some of that era's most gri
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This is a massive (the hardcover is over 700 pages), sprawling, at times torturous story about obsession. The obsessions of three men, across 30-ish years and different countries. The book spans different genres: literary fiction, mystery, western, heist, Victorian drama, detective fiction....gack. I feel like the author threw everything into this book.

The actual story isn't that complicated, but the author gives you a lot of detail (William's wet moustache figures frequently...) and
This is an astonishingly well-written story with many unique characters all pursuing their particular path, each developing their own personal integrity in their own way. Somehow their paths keep intertwining - either directly or peripherally and that is where the story becomes consuming. At times the feeling of foreboding I experienced was so intense I wasn't sure if I could keep on. I'm glad I did. While there are no bright bows wrapping this novel up, in the end it was a reflection - by gasli ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A detective's obsession. The criminal who got away. Upon the death of Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, son William Pinkerton embarks on a quest to find the notorious Edward Shade. Although it is thought that Shade perished in the Civil War, Allan Pinkerton has left notes and documents indicating otherwise.

William Pinkerton combs the streets of 1880's London looking for Mary Reckitt believed to have information on the whereabouts of Edward Shade. In the evening gaslight
Dianne Landry
Oct 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I started this book but was very quickly turned off. I would be reading a descriptive paragraph and then suddenly there would be a line that made no sense. It took a second to realize that in the middle of the paragraph was a line of dialogue because there were no quotation marks around it and then after that line the description would starts up again.

Also, the author has a habit of starting chapters talking about what "he" was thinking or doing but it would take a few pages for it to become cle
Matt Tandy
If M Night wrote a Sherlock Holmes plot and gave it to Cormac McCarthy with instructions to use Poe's style, you'd end up somewhere close to By Gaslight. Simultaneously infuriating and mesmerizing, Steven Price weaves great yarn bagged down by an extremely pretentious writing style. Weaving two mysteries together with consistent misdirection, the plot of By Gaslight is fun, the characters well developed and the payoff rewarding. However, the execution of the book leaves a lot to be desired. Obvi ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
By Gaslight is a historical fiction mystery that includes scenes from South Africa, Victorian London and the American Civil War. We are introduced to its two protagonists - William Pinkerton, a well known American detective and son of the famous Allan Pinkerton, and Adam Foole, a high brow criminal with a gaggle of interesting cohorts whose past is quite sketchy. Those aspects, as well as the beautifully eerie Victorian cover, made me eager to pick up this impressive book.

I found Price's writin
My 2017 goal of reading one book of 500+ pages per month has been a mixed success. With the best doorstoppers the pages fly by and you enjoy every minute spent in a fictional world. From this past year Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle fits that bill, and a couple of novels I read years ago on holidays also come to mind: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. But then there are the books that feel like they’ll never end an ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very long book and it took me a long time to read but I will say I enjoyed it. It is slow-paced and I didn't have a hard time putting it down but each time I picked it up I easily got lost in the world again. This is historical fiction set during the Victorian era featuring The Pinkertons, William mainly. It's not based on truth nor does it profess to be. It does give one insight into Victorian London, especially the criminal class, and surprisingly the other main theme is the American ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

The book starts with a description of London, circa 1885 that was vivid enough to have me feeling the grime. This is Price’s forte, his descriptions. They take you right into the place and time. There's a feel of Dickens in the writing - that same heaviness, that same ability to capture the darkness.

The story involves two men, William Pinkerton, the son of Allan, the founder of the detective agency and Adam Foole, a down on his luck thief with a past that has taken him around the world. There
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an epic historical fiction and I can certainly see why it is on the Giller longlist! The settings, especially Victorian London, are incredibly detailed and vivid and I really felt like I was right there in the action. The characters are well-drawn and fully fleshed out with huge back stories. Like the setting, the characters felt so real that I would expect to glimpse them through the fog were I to visit London. This is not a quick read and you have to have the patience for a very well d ...more
DNF at 15%. I'm not rating or dating because I simply lost interest. I was over three hours in and it was still building the characters. I returned the audio and have no desire to read it in the future. ...more

I’ve been watching this book for years out of the corner of my eye, waiting for a paperback copy (because let’s be real, hardcover versions might be pretty, but they are an expensive pain in the ass to carry around), and the wait is so worth it!

For those who are into the YA scene I would call this reminiscent of Six of Crows, and for others more inclined towards the classics By Gaslight has an excellent blend of the Dickensian coming-of-age novel, meshed with the dark, an
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacia by: NPR Best of 2016 List
Considering the dismal, dark, dank, dingy London much of this novel inhabits, it might seem strange to describe the writing as luscious... but luscious it is. Price is poet & what lovely prose he crafts. A sweeping, brooding mix of historical mystery & thriller, it fully fleshes out histories of its two main characters & their strangely-intersecting, criss-crossing lives. There is so much packed into the many pages that I was fully immersed in the story, the world, & the characters the entire ti ...more
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars.Reminiscent of authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, Steven Price relates the lives of two men and the woman that ties them together. To be frank this is no mere romance as the author tells the tales of the past and interweaves them with the mysteries of the present. The story takes us from the American Civil War to late 19th century London.

As intriguing as the story was, I thought it was a bit lengthy and I consistently put the book down and retried to read it again
Janis Forster
Oct 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited about reading this book. I was expecting an absorbing, atmospheric English novel written around the time of Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a big disappointment. In fact, it was so bad, I couldn't even finish it, which is rare for me. I really couldn't connect with the dark characters and the meandering, tedious way that the author kept going back to their past didn't help. He just never seemed to get to the point of solving the mystery. I also didn't lik ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thick as the fog of gaslit London
Carolyn Walsh
This was a book I preordered and was anxious to read and like for several reasons. It was likened to The Luminaries which was one of my favorite books in recent years (all 848 pages); the setting in 19th century London; the beautiful, eerie cover art. I was disappointed in By Gaslight. It seemed bloated and kept losing interest. I found when I put the book aside I started and finished several books, being reluctant to pick it up again but was determined to finish it.
A big problem was it skippi
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-up-ons
I couldn't wait to dive into this - I love novels set during this time period - and a detective novel to boot - woot! Then I got a few pages in, and... where the frell are the quotation marks?? I know other authors have used this technique before, but it's danged annoying and very difficult for me to ignore.

Such as (not from the book, just my own example): He walked across the room. It's sure cold in here, he picked up a tea cup then set it down, so, how you been, he said.

Totally annoying, righ
Amy Mancini
Jan 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned-books
I abandoned this book after just 20 pages. The author's run on sentences, lack of punctuation, and unclear antecedents distracted me to the point that I could think of nothing else. You could go for pages and never know which character was in the scene because "he" was. All of my mental energy was going into figuring out how to read the sentences. I never knew if someone was speaking (no quotation marks). As a result, I was unable
to follow the plot. I like literary fiction, but this one is tryin
Like a 3.6. It was an okay read but felt 75% was spent getting the reader to the actual story. An odd one for me.
Dan Radovich
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh boy this one is HUGE and packed with a lot of history. That being said, it IS a wonderful thriller set in late 1800's London (for the most part). William Pinkerton (son of the famous detective) is in England searching for the man he thinks killed his father. He and Adam Foole, a man of questionable integrity, both end up searching for the same woman for different reasons. These two 'team up' for a thriller written with some of the best prose I have read in years. Price is a great wordsmith. H ...more
By Gaslight tells the story of two characters (and those in their orbit), William Pinkerton and Adam Foole. Both appear to be on either side of the law, one the son of Allan Pinkerton, founder of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, and the other, an uncommon thief. What is their connection? When Allan dies, William finds himself lost and numb. William always felt that he didn’t know his father very well, that there was a lack of filial connection. He finds his father’s death hard to grieve. W ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps one of my favourite fiction books of the year. Detective William Pinkerton, determined to put the ghost of his father to rest by finding the one criminal who always eluded him, Edward Shade. He follows a lead - a woman - to London, but before he can question her she jumps into the Thames. And then there's Adam Foole, a highbrow con-man/smuggler/thief who has brought his rag-tag working family back to London all because of a letter he received about a new proposition from his long ago los ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As soon as this book came out I wanted to read it for two reasons. The first is that the topic interested me (literary Victorian tale with comparisons to Dickens and Conan Doyle!) the second is that I live in the same town as the author and I always enjoy reading local authors. So, I was thrilled to get a free copy from Goodreads Giveaways, thank you to Goodreads and the publishers.
Of course, when you've got high expectations for a book, the results can be less than satisfying, but happily this
Biblio Curious
Jan 22, 2017 marked it as skim-abandon-revisit  ·  review of another edition
The story is brilliantly woven together. The characters have lots of unexpected qualities and are very memorable. The plot and character development is told out of order and the right amount of information is given at the right time. When I ask why does this character think this way? In the ver next chapter or section pertaining to that character, the question is answered and a new, delightful question is raised. Highly recommended for lovers of history, classics or mystery. The description of s ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2017
This book was great and had so much packed into it. It starts out as a murder mystery in Victorian London and we are introduced to characters whose histories and relationships are slowly revealed through flashbacks in history. We also spend time in South Africa and the American Civil War. Although the murder was the opening mystery, other mysteries are also presented, and I was constantly trying to figure how everything fit together. I also thought the descriptive writing was great, I could pict ...more
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Steven Price is a Canadian poet and novelist.

He graduated from the University of Victoria with a BFA in 2000, and from the University of Virginia with an MFA, in poetry.

Price's first collection of poems, Anatomy of Keys (2006), won Canada's 2007 Gerald Lampert Award for Best First Collection, was short-listed for the BC Poetry Prize, and was named a Globe and Mail Book of the Year. His first novel

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“William gave the gallerist a grim look. In my experience, he said, crooks are usually the least dishonest of the bunch. It's not in their interest to deceive you, sir. This is how they make their living. Be patient.” 4 likes
“He was the oldest son.” 2 likes
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