The story goes that academic and editor Michael Cox spent about thirty years writing this book, taking deep inspiration from the nineteenth century authors such as Charles Dickens and William Wilkie Collins. The Meaning of Night starts with real drama and from the start we follow the story of Edward Glyver and his search for revenge on his long-standing adversary, the wonderfully named Phoebus Daunt.
Cox does well in recreating mid-nineteenth century London with sketches of all different levels of society, from sprawling country estates to dingy opium dens in the capital. In true nineteenth century mystery style, the drama unfolds one episode at a time and the tension gradually builds as the story progresses. Having said that, however, I found that as the story progressed I was able to successfully anticipate the next turn the story would take, and I felt that the 'big twist' was no great surprise. Nevertheless on the whole, I have to say that I enjoyed the book and it is a creditable first novel.