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Publisher's Summary

George Webb is a divorced ex-policeman turned private investigator, a man whose prospects seemed ruined not so long ago. Kicked off the force for trying in all the wrong ways to put away the right man, he has recently crossed a line with a client - and upended his own life.

In this masterful novel, Graham Swift takes us inside Webb's mind. For one dazzling day, we see what Webb sees and know only what his thinking reveals. We learn about his childhood and the secret it forced him to carry; his changing relationship with his once-renegade daughter; the last moments with his ex-wife; his fall from grace as a cop; the unexpected ease with which he has turned his police-learned skills to the more delicate demands of his new profession. And we learn how those demands have put him in silent league with the fateful client, a woman he has come to love.

Fascinating in its slow and revelatory accumulation of physical and emotional detail, tender and humorous, intense and suspenseful, The Light of Day is a tour-de-force journey into human emotions.

© 2003 Graham Swift; (P)2003 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"He is a writer of immense gifts." (The Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Mike
  • Miramichi, NB, Canada
  • 09-29-03

A wordsmith no doubt.

Excellent book, a breath of fresh air in the musty chamber of the nearly good best sellers. Get it and prepare for a wonderful listen that will have you thinking of parallels and insights long before you know it :-)

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lori
  • Marion, IA, USA
  • 02-07-04

Amazing, both the reading and the writing

Light of Day has a stream-of-consciousness style, telling the story of a private detective who has fallen in love with an imprisoned murderess. The writing is powerful, full of wonderful observations on life. The reading, however, is even better--a masterful performance that brings the book to life.

The first two-thirds of this book are best, with some of the most remarkable writing I've come across. Swift delivers wonderful, inciteful observations and metaphors. He does lose steam in the final third, but only ends up stepping back to a more average level of writing.

What makes this audiobook remarkable is the reading by Graeme Malcolm. Malcolm's voice and reading style bring this quirky British detective alive, handling the complex stream-of-consciousness text masterfully.

The amazing combination made the first two-thirds of this book one of the best audiobook experiences I've had. If you only like plot-driven books, this one isn't for you. If you have any taste for something more, however, this book is well worth the time.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 02-09-06

Lovely writer/reader; flaccid story

This book is well written and the reader does a nice job of evoking the stream-of-consciousness style the author chooses to narrate with. But the story itself and the facts of the plot leave a bit to be desired. The story's overall arc transpires in a single day but we are treated to many reveries that the main character experiences throughout the course of that day. These flashbacks and wonderings detail the tragic events that have come beforehand in the life of the main character, a private investigator, and former clients (it involves cheating spouses and murder). While it's all well done, the listener becomes pretty clear on "what happened" in the past and the book seems like it wants to have some kind of surprise toward the end. Easily, by halfway through the novel, there isn't much "mystery" left, but rather, what remains is to get the full picture of every character's mind-set when the events transpired. It's not as compelling as it could have been. Imagine a second half of the book where not only do we come to understand everyone's mindset but we also come to learn that the facts of the story are actually different than we thought. This would be a welcome surprise and would turn the story on its ear. None of that happens here... we are simply treated to a well thought-out, delicate elucidation of the characters' thoughts but never are we thrilled by them. I hesistate to call the book boring, but it uses a lot of words and tortured fretting to relate an extremely simple story. While some readers might find that this is the very thing that makes the book special, it failed to impress me enough to give it more than three stars. Listen to this book if you like deep character studies, stories about P.I.s, or if you're thinking of cheating on your spouse!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Sorry to say it, but: Boring

You should know that the story is told in a 'stream-of-consciousness' style, there isn't a plot to speak of, and no real mystery. The reader's voice is excellent, however, so if you're into literary experiments, go right ahead. I felt like I was caught in an endless loop, mainly because the narrator's observations are constantly repeated. About half-way through, I conducted my own experiment: 'Would fast-forwarding about an hour change anything to the story? Would I feel like I had missed anything?' No.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeff
  • los angeles, CA, USA
  • 08-10-04

The Light of Day

Wonderfully written and perfectly delivered in audio format, this is one of my Top 5 purchases ever. Witty, literate, and original in style and organization, this may not be suitable for those who prefer a stock plot, cardboard characters, and the reliable denouement at page 347 of a 375-page novel. This is short, exacting, delightfully crafted. There are few mystery/crime novels I'd read twice--and even fewer I'd listen to twice--but The Light of Day is entertaining on far more levels than the standard thriller/killer/legal tripe...The word play is clever, the lead character sympathetic/flawed/aware, and the flash-back/stream-of-consciousness thread is 100% seductive.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One of the best listens yet

I found this book perfectly outstanding, from the quality of the writing to the fine and sympathetic reading. It held my attention from beginning to end and, as really good books do, it left me with a sense of nostalgia so complete I simply had to listen to it all over again. And that was a first for me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tom
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 12-09-03

Brilliantly Crafted

Swift does a masterful job of story telling, interweaving stories and time shifts seamlessly and effortlessly. The narration is first rate. This is story telling at its best. Very enjoyable.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Danielle
  • Eden Prairie, MN, USA
  • 12-28-03


The publisher's summary is most accurate in "For one dazzling day, we see what Webb sees..." Imagine a stranger listening to your thoughts as they wonder over one day in your life. If it sounds appealing, this title may be for you. Personally, the poetic descriptions are a plus. Otherwise, it fatigues me to listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Better read than heard

This stream-of-consciousness style, with flashbacks, is well-done and worth a read. But if listening on-the-go is your style, pass this one up. I never did figure out who the Deason character was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Bokeelia, FL, USA
  • 12-12-04

Initially interesting, but NOT

After an initial interest, I lost track and did not care what happened to the characters. The stream of unconsciousness simply turned into too many words and too much self-absorption. I agree with the reviewer who said that fast-forwarding an hour would not change anything. Would return if possible. Not worth the effort to listen. Only good for those who believe that endless discussion can resolve anything.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful