by Steven Price
Let’s start 2017 as we mean to go on: with lots of reading. Steven Price’s By Gaslightmay clock in at a wrist-bending 752 pages but never fear: this is one of those novels that races by in the reading. Our setting is that best of times and places: London, 1885. Almost inevitably there is a real pea-souper enveloping city and souls. William Pinkerton, whose father all but invented the job that Sherlock Holmes made world famous, travels to London cool-on-the-heels of Edward Shade, whose last name all but consigns him to a life as a master criminal. William meets Adam Foole (another pointed name), who is searching for his missing girlfriend but hints at new dimensions to William’s famous father. Price’s other job, as a poet, lends his prose sensual immediacy: he is alert to sounds, touch and, above all, light. He also knows his Victorian novels, weaving mysteries like a Wilkie Collins who has binged on Sherlock box sets. Terrific.