Review: The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

“After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.”

Michael Cox pulls no punches with the beginning of The Meaning of Night: A Confession. You are immediately drawn into the story of Edward Glyver, and you have absolutely no reason to like him. After all, the man just committed a cold-blooded murder. In addition to being a killer, he’s a thug, a drug-user, he patronizes prostitutes…and by the end of the book, I was rooting for him. That is quite a deficit to overcome.

This book was a pleasure to read, especially if you’re a fan of Victorian literature. (I’ll admit that it is not my favorite genre; the language is a little stilted and flowery for my taste.) There is an undercurrent of  anger and violence to go with the formal speech and manners. It’s a complicated story with a number of unexpected twists that keep you turning the pages. It’s the kind of story that has you racing for the finish, eager to find out how it all plays out.

As a young man, Edward experiences a tremendous betrayal and he never entirely recovers; it colors his perceptions and his thirst for revenge really decides the course of his life. Years later, a second betrayal is enough to push him over the edge, into obsession. Oddly enough, he is not really what you would expect of the heartless killer you meet in the first pages. He feels remorse for many of the things he’s done. He is capable of inspiring great loyalty and love in his friends. He is a great lover of books (which always scores points with me). Still, he has a vicious streak.

This is a hefty book (680+ pages), but it is well worth the effort to lug it around with you. Even though I am not a huge fan of Victorian literature, I really enjoyed reading this one and I highly recommend it.

My copy of The Meaning of Night: A Confession is an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

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