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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Geralyn Magrady Reviews Cox Mystery

The Meaning of Night: A ConfessionAuthor: Michael Cox
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-393-33034-2
Originally Reviewed by Geralyn Magrady originally on her blog, The Roles of Writing
It's been a while since I read The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox, but I placed it at the top of my favorite books list for a reason. The Meaning of Night is written in a style reminiscent of Wilkie Collins or Charles Dickens, taking the reader on a journey through the times and landscapes of mid-19th century London, and the mystery that is exposed on these pages is one of haunting excitement. It's a lengthy and gothic tale, one of frantic suspense filled with multi-layered characters and deep subplots that explore love and vengeance, sacrifice and entitlement, secrets and deceptions. The chapters read like the serials of years past, cliff-hanging, urging the reader to keep going.

The main character and narrator, Edward Glyver, is tormented and consumed with revenge. Readers will not connect with him at the start, thinking him cold and detached and plain-old unlikeable. The first line of the book (a "Confession") matter-of-factly states: "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." As the plot unfolds, however, and Edward's story is revealed, the same readers are psychologically transformed against their wills to accept Edward, and then understand Edward, even sympathize, until they find themselves wanting desperately to shout out as his friend, "No, Edward! Don't!"

At some point in time, we all want to place blame anywhere but within ourselves for life's misfortunes. Sometimes there is truth and honesty in that charge; other times it is an excuse or crutch or, in Edward's case, a complete obsession. Phoebus Daunt, a life-long nemesis, is the target of Glyver's compulsion. As readers, we are well aware of calculations and plans for Phoebus' demise, but the author masterfully builds the tension throughout 700+ pages, creating an epic literary experience for all who pick up this highly recommended thriller.

The sequel, The Glass of Time: A Novel is equally as entertaining. Even though, in my humble opinion, it does not capture the depth of suspense which exists in the author’s first book, it too, is a worthwhile read. Tragically, Michael Cox passed away in March, 2009 after battling a rare form of cancer for five years, the same period he feverishly wrote these works. If you love Victorian mysteries with a Dickens flair, you won’t be disappointed. The only letdown is in the knowledge that another novel will not be offered by such a great writer.
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