This review is taken from the NY Times
'Cunningham has taken on the classic plot of the uninvited or unexpected stranger or guest whose arrival brings chaos, self-knowledge, tragedy, the ruin of one kind of life that may or may not lead to something better. Cunningham is drawn to simple, potent plots (think of the triptych in “The Hours”), saving his energy for the hearts and minds, the groins and guts, of his characters. Yet he makes you turn the pages. He tells a story here, but not too much of a story. You aren’t deadened by detail; you’re eager to know what happens next.
Cunningham writes so well, and with such an economy of language, that he can call up the poet’s exact match. His dialogue is deft and fast. The pace of the writing is skilled — stretched or contracted at just the right time. And if some of the interventions on art are too long — well, too long for whom? For what? Good novels are novels that provoke us to argue with the writer, not just novels that make us feel magically, mysteriously at home. A novel in which everything is perfect is a waxwork. A novel that is alive is never perfect.
“By Nightfall” is an interior work that externalizes its agonies. Cunningham puts us inside a man’s head, allowing us to look out at his life, which is more satisfying than using events to let us look inward. It’s not only that we understand Peter or sympathize with him; in some ways, we become him. We know, in part, what’s going to happen, in that fateful, fearful way we know things about ourselves once we’ve started down a particular road. And the particular road here is desire.'
Amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who also uses her training to solve unusual mysteries. Isabel is Editor of the Review of Applied Ethics – which addresses such questions as ‘Truth telling in sexual relationships’ – and she also hosts The Sunday Philosophy Club at her house in Edinburgh. Behind the city’s Georgian facades its moral compasses are spinning with greed, dishonesty and murderous intent. Instinct tells Isabel that the young man who tumbled to his death in front of her eyes at a concert in the Usher Hall didn’t fall. He was pushed.