A Light in the Dark

London post World War I in 1920. The culture and actions of the lower echelon of the city are illuminated in Mark Dawson’s Gaslight.

Harry Costello works as a gaslight attendant after he comes back from fighting in the war. His job allows him to scout houses he can steal from with his brother George. It’s after one of his jobs that the “tax collector” for the Little Italy mob boss comes to the Costello’s to extort their “earnings” from them. Harry is rather quick-tempered and formulates a plan, with the help of local bartender and love interest Isabella, to remove his problem. Harry’s actions catch the eye of the boss of Little Italy and earns him a job as an enforcer for the mob.

Within the text, there were issues in consistency of punctuation usage, namely in quotation marks. The narrative paints the scene relatively well, but the entire narrative is rather abbreviated in its scope of what actually takes place in comparison with the language associated with it. Events all built up to the climax that just sort of happened all too quickly and fizzled out immediately, despite its attempt to set up for subsequent installments. I found it interesting that the full title of this work includes the term noir. I can see how there are some elements of noir and an attempt was made, but by traditional standards, it’s not quite there and could certainly be punched up more to more fully live up to that name.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.


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