White Stone Day
Set in gritty Victorian London in 1858, Gray’s second book follows A Fiend in Human, his first novel which, likewise, was filled with reprobates and just about the worst trash that the streets could offer. Victorian respectability has no place in any of Gray’s pages.
Edmund Whitty is a writer for a London tabloid, spewing out lurid articles. He begins investigating a quack psychic, and goes to a séance under an assumed name, only to be contacted by his late brother. What scandal is this that his brother divulges? And why is the psychic quickly dispatched after that séance?
The investigation takes Whitty to Oxford, where an eccentric cleric and author of children’s stories is involved in a family with two little girls. He plays croquet with them, and they weave stories together during their “playtimes.” He also takes “artistic” photographs of little girls. Is this man involved in a ring of murderous child pornographers?
This is a dark tale often told tongue-in-cheek by Gray through the voices of his characters. I was uncomfortable with the narrative style, although it was consistent with the subject and the characters. I found myself having a problem concentrating on the plots and subplots. Having read that Gray was likened to both Caleb Carr and Dickens, I expected to become gripped by the events as they unfolded – but I wasn’t. Unfortunate, considering the potential of the subject matter.