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The Lamplighter

An atmospheric thriller set in nineteenth-century Edinburgh, Anthony O'Neill's elegant, darkly masterful novel is full of psychological suspense and first-rate horror. Evelyn is a clever orphan at the Fountainbridge Institute for Destitute Girls. Enchanted by a cheerful lamplighter who fires the streetlamp outside her window each evening, she mesmerizes the other girls with flights of fancy. In a time before Freudian awareness of sexuality and the subconscious mind, such tales are forbidden by the institute's governor, who warns Evelyn to cease her nocturnal storytelling. Evelyn defies him -- and is cast out of the orphanage and sacrificed to a shadowy figure claiming to be her long-lost father. Who is this man, and why does he lock Evelyn away in a hunting lodge? Years later, the mutilated body of a professor of ecclesiastical law turns up on one of Edinburgh's finest streets; the grave of a famous colonel is ravaged; a shady entrepreneur is slaughtered while dashing for a train; and a retired lighthouse keeper is ripped to shreds while walking his dog -- all this after Evelyn, now a young woman, has reappeared in the city. What connects the victims? And what of Evelyn, anguished and appealing, who repeatedly claims to have dreamed the murders in great detail -- each time blaming a mysterious "lamplighter"? Leading the official investigation is Carus Groves, a conceited yet effective police inspector desperate to cap his unremarkable career with a sensational case. Heading up the unofficial investigation is a disillusioned professor of logic and metaphysics, Thomas McKnight, and his assistant, Joseph Canavan, a strapping young gravedigger. Using reason, intuition, philosophy, and luck, these men race to solve the murders and unveil the source of Evelyn's torment, and in so doing penetrate the very gates of Hell.
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About the Author

Anthony O'Neill is the son of an Irish policeman and an Australian stenographer. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.


Set in gas-lit, fog-bound Edinburgh in the late 1800s, O'Neill's second novel is a gothic adventure in the spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson or John Buchan. Four men are murdered, disfigured horribly by an invisible killer, with no apparent connection or motive. And what does the ethereal Evelyn Todd know about the murders? Whilst police inspector Carus Groves is keen to prove himself capable of solving the baffling case, philosophy professor Thomas McKnight and his friend Joseph Cavanan start their own investigation, using very different methods. Whilst slow to get going, this story gradually sucks you in, with plenty of atmosphere and local colour. As a combination of well-researched historical novel, crime procedural and spooky, supernatural mystery, it will appeal to a wide audience. Fans of other historical crime writers like Caleb Carr and Laurie King should enjoy this book, and given its very cinematic sense of place I wouldn't be surprised if someone adapts it for a Sunday night telemovie. Tim Coronel is the editorial coordinator of AB&P. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors.

"Philadelphia Inquirer" Brilliant....genuinely terrifying. "Publishers Weekly" (starred review) Thrilling...will have readers turning the pages compulsively. "San Francisco Chronicle" A chilling page-turner...thought provoking. "Bookforum" Stunning....An achievement worthy of Highsmith. "Publishers Weekly" (starred review) Spellbinding. Stephen Booth, Author of "Black Dog" and "Blind to the Bones" O'Neill's chillingly atmospheric story of evil and the power of the imagination adds new terrors to the gothic, gaslit depths of Edinburgh's past. Follow his tale through these streets only if you dare. You may not come back alive. Stephen Booth Author of "Black Dog" and "Blood on the Tongue" O'Neill's chillingly atmospheric story of evil and the power of the imagination adds new terrors to the gothic, gaslit depths of Edinburgh's past. Follow his tale through these streets only if you dare. You may not come back alive. "Kirkus Reviews"As terrifying as a child's nightmares -- and as wonderful as waking from them. "Bookforum"[A] stunning American achievement worthy of Highsmith.

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