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Publisher's Summary

"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver - booklover, scholar, and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness, and a chance discovery convinces him that he was right. Greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he knows is rightfully his.

Glyver's path to reclaim his prize leads him from the depths of Victorian London, with its foggy streets, brothels, and opium dens, to Evenwood, one of England's most beautiful and enchanting country houses, and finally to a consuming love for the beautiful but enigmatic Emily Carteret. His is a story of betrayal and treachery, of death and delusion, of ruthless obsession and ambition. And at every turn, driving Glyver irresistibly onward, is his deadly rival: the poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.

The Meaning of Night is an enthralling novel that will captivate listeners right up to its final thrilling revelation. Thirty years in the making, this debut from Michael Cox has earned starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly.

©2006 Michael Cox (P)2006 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"A masterful first novel and a must." (Booklist) "[A] richly imagined thriller....Its exemplary blend of intrigue, history, and romance mark a stand-out literary debut." (Publishers Weekly) "A bibliophilic, cozy, murderous confection out of foggy old England and a learned and remarkably entertaining treat." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Almost but not quite....

It is true, this story is compelling and richly blessed with suspence. As a huge fan of Wilkie Collins, I loved this authors reach for Collins' sublime.. although it fell just short of its mark. In places it was tedious and several characters were abstract and distracting. The plot was wonderful, though a little predictable, and kept my attention enough that I found myself lurred into the main characters revenge. I was even coming up with ideas of my own!

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of Dickens and Collins or anyone who likes a good, deep, complex plot. Cox did a bang-up job and I look forward to listening to other books by him.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Prosaic and compelling

This first novel is indeed a feat of fiction, skillfully written and plotted. Although you can anticipate the subterfuge to come towards the end, where the story does get a bit melodramatic, the book succeeds in providing a solid story. It is quite long, but the characterizations are well done and it does have its clever twists and turns. The narration is good, although the reader's improvisation of female characters, especially Emily, is rather grating. All in all, a good listen.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 01-19-07

Boring and predictable but great narrator

I loved the narrator, which is what kept me listening to this book even though I was pretty bored through most of it. The main character is narcissistic, slightly paranoid, grandiose and long-winded. He goes on and on about his "enemy" in a way that left me imaging an angry trollish man manically drumming his fingers together and laughing a melodramatic evil laugh.

The plot was also rather predictable and I figured out the “twist” as it were several hours before it happened. The last 4-5 hours were pretty enjoyable, which is why I gave the book 3 stars rather than something lower. This middle was tedious. Not one of my favorites. The language was melodious and the narrator was great.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patricia
  • Petersburg, PA, United States
  • 06-09-09

Dickensian with a dark twist

If you like Dickens and mystery and long books and great narration, you will love this book. Obviously I like all of the above and thus liked this Cox offering very much. Highly recommended. I will get more books by Cox.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • M
  • Burlingame, CA, United States
  • 02-20-10

First Read "The Woman in White"

The writing, the period detail, and the narration are all excellent, but why read a novel by a modern writer set in Victorian London and written in the style of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins when you could read Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins instead? One answer could be that the modern writer is able to treat some subjects, such as sex and violence, more openly than Victorian writers. "The Meaning of Night" is somewhat more explicit in these areas, but not much more. Another answer is that you have already read every good contemporary thriller set in and around Victorian London. If you are such a connoisseur of Victorian literature, you will love this book. If not, just read the originals. Start with "Great Expectations," "Bleak House," or "The Woman in White."

My other problem with this book (and this is not a spoiler) is that it starts with the narrator's random murder of an innocent stranger. This was unnecessary to an otherwise well-plotted story. Maybe the author was trying to suck the reader in, but it turned this reader (listener) off to the point that I almost gave up on the whole book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Martha
  • Marfa, TX, United States
  • 10-17-08


Fascinating, witty, it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night story; well-drawn world of London in the mid-1800s; interesting characters. And the reader is wonderful--made the characters come alive. One of those rare books that I think I probably enjoyed listening to more than I would have enjoyed reading.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Meaning of Night

Very well written, allowing the reader to escape into both the aristocracy and the rubbish of London in the late 1800s. I have listened to this audiobook 3 times and still feel that I would benefit from a 4th listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 08-21-07

Could have been better

I'm not usually a reader of mysteries/suspense/crime novels, but I thought this book had great potential. The main character and his obsession with revenge carried me along, but I felt that the last quarter of the book was disappointing and too predictable.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Huntsville, AL, USA
  • 07-17-07

wonderful book

This was a long story and I was sorry when it ended. It was very well written and even though there was a lot of detail, the story moved along. The reader was absolutely superb and of course that contributed to my enjoyment of the book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Susan
  • ATLANTA, GA, United States
  • 12-16-17

A treat for the ears and imagination

I think I could happily listen to this narrator over and over again. I read a lot of audio books, so it is a big deal when I say that.

As for this story, it too was very engaging. I do wish it hadn't been so predictable as far as what was going to happen. Maybe I've read too many mysteries. Really, it is worth the time. Entertaining and the old English keeps you paying attention.