By Gaslight is by Steven Price. This is a magnificent piece of historical fiction spanning decades and continents. William Pinkerton is the son of the famous Allan Pinkerton who started what became the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago in 1850. The agency is still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations. This story begins after Allan’s death as his oldest son, William, travels to England in search of the one criminal his father had never been able to catch, a failure which haunted him until his death, the mysterious thief known as Edward Shade. Things get nasty when the woman he is tailing jumps off a bridge into the Thames, William assumes she drowned, but her head is found several days later (along with various other body parts). Did Shade kill her? Does Shade even exist? When the woman’s old lover, Adam Foole, enlists William’s aid in finding her killer, William begins to discover the truth about Shade and his own father’s secret past. The fictional parts of the story are equally compelling. This is ultimately the story of two men who loved the same father/father-figure and where that love, betrayal, and misunderstanding led them. The book shifts back and forth in time (sometimes even giving glimpses of the future), as well as narrator, and this can be confusing at times if you are not paying attention. However, the story is haunting and beautifully told. You feel for both men and what they have endured. This is a powerful story and doesn’t seem long when you are reading it. I really enjoyed this book and hope I can convince you to give it a try.
Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content) - P (profanity).