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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > July August 2016 > Light and shadow

Light and shadow

Steven Price’s second novel is engrossing, despite some stylistic flaws


By Gaslight

Steven Price

McClelland & Stewart

Steven PRICE’S By Gaslight is a 19th-century sensation novel rewritten with a noir sensibility: Wilkie Collins meets Raymond Chandler. And it goes some way toward meeting our expectations for books of that kind – that is, for long, twisty tales of the Victorian underworld. Foggy atmosphere? Check. Abundant period details? Check. Resolute detectives, colourful criminals, dangerously beguiling women? Check, check, check. In fact, as a neo-Victorian mystery it is nearly perfect. Its plot is a maze of misdirection; its protagonists claw their way through it burdened by secrets and confounded by lies; it offers revelations but not salvation. It’s formulaic, but expansively so, and it reworks these familiar elements with style and originality.

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FALL PREVIEW More than 145 new titles to make the season a colourful one. Raizel Robin, Brian Francis, Angie Abdou, Melanie Fishbone and more contribute. ZOE WHITTAL defies categorization with her timely new novel. BORDER CROSSINGS In telling the fraught tale of a desperate foreigner in the U.S., David Bergen has written arguably his best novel. Stranger.