Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Meaning of Night: A Confession

By Michael Cox

This book is a commitment. 600+ pages of commitment. Once you begin this book you'll feel compelled to move through all the twists and turns and will be itching to know the outcome.

A few things make me crazy though. A) We know by now that I hate footnotes. But also, I hate when authors try to make fiction real. It's called suspension of disbelief. Everyone who reads fiction understands that and is willing to go along wherever you take them. Don't invent an editor and say he found this lost 19th century manuscript. It's unnecessary. You're just making extra work for myself. You used some real places or maybe even some characters who may have existed in real life, fine. But it's still fiction. I know it's fiction. Don't try to make it seem otherwise.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I really liked this book. The Meaning of Night is as enveloping and atmospheric as the thick London fog. Cox constructs an enthralling mystery. It is a master work of festering contempt and patient but desperate revenge. Cox puts you on Edward Glyver's side through it all: his opium hazes, shady work responsibilities and his supreme idiocy in love.

Yes, it is a long book. But the chapters go by quickly, even when the plot is moving slowly. This is the perfect read for the rainy, windy, sometimes snowy, gray month that is March in New England.

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