It’s a Mystery: The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox

3.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster

From the opening sentence –“After killing the red- haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.”- – I fully expected to be drawn into a blockbuster of a crime novel. Edward Glyver has been raised by a mother with a beautiful and mysterious friend, Miss Lamb, who had a special interest in him. At her death, Miss Lamb left young Edward a bequest, in the form of enough money to permit him to pursue a first class education. While at Eton, Edward forms a friendship of his own, one that will determine the course of his life, for better or worse. When that boy betrays him, the obsession to exact revenge takes hold, until Edward can think of nothing else.

The blockbuster, alas, did not develop. The life that Edward makes for himself is a seamy one, in spite of the fact that he comes to know influential people. For Edward is psychologically unable to form meaningful relationships, using those who genuinely care about him and chasing after those who don’t. There is not a single character in this book, good or bad, with enough humanity to win a modicum of affinity from the reader. Reading The Meaning of Night is a rather mechanical exercise, performed to learn the outcome of Edward’s plight without particularly caring about it. This is a good story, but somehow, it lacks heart. The best part is over when the first sentence has been read.

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