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Starred Review. Resonant with echoes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, Cox's richly imagined thriller features an unreliable narrator, Edward Glyver, who opens his chilling "confession" with a cold-blooded account of an anonymous murder that he commits one night on the streets of 1854 London. That killing is mere training for his planned assassination of Phoebus Daunt, an acquaintance Glyver blames for virtually every downturn in his life. Glyver feels Daunt's insidious influence in everything from his humiliating expulsion from school to his dismal career as a law firm factotum. The narrative ultimately centers on the monomaniacal Glyver's discovery of a usurped inheritance that should have been his birthright, the byzantine particulars of which are drawing him into a final, fatal confrontation with Daunt. Cox's tale abounds with startling surprises that are made credible by its scrupulously researched background and details of everyday Victorian life. Its exemplary blend of intrigue, history and romance mark a stand-out literary debut. Cox is also the author of M.R. James, a biography of the classic ghost-story writer.
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*Starred Review* This enthralling historical novel--set in London in 1854, cast as a confession, and written in the dense and formal style of a Victorian novel--tells the unusual story of Edward Glyver, bibliophile, photographer, and murderer. Ostensibly the tale of a man whose rightful legacy has been deliberately withheld, it casts a much wider net, and at its center is its vivid portrait of a teeming London, "brilliant and beautifully vile." That dichotomy is also expressed in the deadly rivalry between scholarly Glyver and his archnemesis, Phoebus Daunt, who is esteemed as a poet but makes his living by bilking people of their money through elaborate con games while insidiously cultivating the affections of the heirless Lord Tansor. Raised in near-poverty, Glyver gradually becomes aware of the fact that he is Lord Tansor's son and begins a years-long search for evidence, but he is thwarted at every turn by the wily Daunt. An intriguing blend of book lover and man of the world, Glyver becomes completely obsessed with his quest, which takes him from exquisite libraries to smoky opium dens, dank bars, and gaudy brothels. His obsession also turns him from a discerning scholar into a cold-blooded murderer. Cox invokes emotions, from the iciest betrayal to all-consuming love, on a grand scale and gives them an equally impressive backdrop as he depicts a fetid London, its streets filthy but its people in thrall to the smallest details of social stratification. A masterful first novel and a must for readers of Iain Pears and David Liss. Joanne Wilkinson
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The sheer size of this book I found a little daunting. But after a few pages I was hooked and the volume was no longer intimidating. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2009 by temp
Michael Cox does a fantastic job with character development in his novel. Making the reader care for the characters is not an easy feat to accomplish, and I feel he has done well... Read morePublished on July 29 2008 by MAL
According to the dust jacket on the book, it took the author 30 years to write this novel. And it shows. The level of detail demonstrated in the novel is extensive. Read morePublished on Jan. 1 2008 by NorthVan Dave
This is a wonderful, highly stylized work of historical fiction. Those with a penchant for Victorian literature will appreciate this book, as it is written in the style of the... Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2006 by Lawyeraau
The singular product of a revivification of the best tradition of nineteenth century literature, The Meaning of Night tells an extraordinarily gripping tale of love, misfortune,... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2006 by Daniel Jolley
At the start of "The Meaning of Night: A Confession," the narrator tells how he murdered a complete stranger, a red-haired man, and then head off to a favorite eating... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2006 by Lawrance Bernabo
As the story opens, we step into the world of Victorian London and meet mysterious Edward Glyver, intellectual, book lover, and seeker of revenge. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2006 by Kona