Current of Darkness

Desire and Deceit in the Gilded Age

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
382 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2024
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Robert Brighton is an authority on the Gilded Age and a great believer that the Victorian era was anything but stuffy. On the contrary, in his books Brighton exposes the gritty realities of the time against a backdrop of meticulous research. His Avenging Angel Detective Agency™ Mysteries—in a category Brighton calls “immersive historical fiction”—have earned multiple awards for fiction.

When he is not sniffing out unsolved mysteries, Brighton is an adventurer. He has traveled in more than 56 countries around the world, usually on only a few dollars a day, throwing himself into every situation his characters will face — from underground ruins to opium dens — and (so far) living to tell about it.

A graduate of the Sorbonne, Brighton is an avid student of early twentieth century history and literature, a relentless investigator, and an admirer of Emily Dickinson and Jim Morrison. Currently he lives in Virginia with his wife and their two cats.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Laura R. Brush for Readers' Favorite

Current of Darkness is a captivating work of historical fiction set in the golden era of the Gilded Age, highlighting the dazzling tumult of America's late 19th century. In this suspenseful story by the supremely talented Robert Brighton, two formidable women must gather their inner strength and ingenuity, put aside personal conflicts, and navigate the treacherous waters of society on the brink of the new century. The author weaves a dynamic and enthralling story which takes place in the glittering heart of Niagara Falls where the bold spirits of female pioneers confront backstabbing corporate maneuvers. Brighton transports readers to a time of immense wealth, technological innovation, and social upheaval, and paints a vivid picture of a nation on the cusp of profound change.

The writing is both engaging and evocative; the gripping plot enmeshes readers with beautifully crafted prose. The characters are complex and compelling, reflecting the ambition, greed, and moral dilemmas of the era. The intricate plot, filled with twists and turns, keeps the reader guessing until the explosive ending. But what truly sets Current of Darkness apart is the author's remarkable knowledge of the Gilded Age. The historical details are meticulously examined, from the descriptions of opulent mansions to the depictions of emerging industries. The era’s social dynamics, including the stark contrast between the extremely wealthy and the struggling lower classes, are portrayed with nuance and insight. Current of Darkness is more than just a novel - it's a vivid journey into a pivotal epoch in American history. Robert Brighton's passion for the subject shines through every page, making this a must-read for anyone interested in the Gilded Age and its lasting impact.

K.C. Finn

Current of Darkness: Desire and Deceit in the Gilded Age is penned by author Robert Brighton in the historical fiction, mystery, and suspense genres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Readers are invited into a world of industrial espionage, love, and betrayal, where aspiring sleuth Sarah Payne navigates the shadowy demimonde of Gilded Age Niagara Falls, entangled with ruthless union bosses, saboteurs, and tycoons, including the mysterious Charles Kendall. Meanwhile, sultry widow Alicia Miller fights to assert her control over her murdered husband's company, facing off against a new owner with his own agenda. As tensions rise and secrets unravel, both women must summon the courage and resourcefulness to survive in a world dominated by cutthroat business dealings and shifting alliances.

Author Robert Brighton has lovingly crafted a vibrant work of masterful storytelling and intricate plotting that kept me eagerly turning the pages as I became immersed in the lives of Sarah Payne and Alicia Miller. There’s a fantastic sense of balance to the mystery, romance, and historical intrigue, creating a rich tapestry of characters and settings that locks together beautifully and authentically. Sarah and Alicia were particular standouts in terms of character development, with a strong sense of emotional depth realized in their authentic dialogue and narrative presentation as we sit right on their shoulders during every decision and challenge. The vivid atmospheric lexis also gives readers a full-color glimpse into a bygone era of American history with fully immersive sights, sounds, and sensations, leaving readers eagerly anticipating the next visit to the world of the Avenging Angel Detective Agency Mystery series. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Current of Darkness as an enthralling experience for fans of historical mystery everywhere.

Priya Mathew

Current of Darkness by Robert Brighton is a historical mystery that takes readers on a journey through the later years of the Gilded Age in American history. Set in the early 1900s, this story follows two main characters - Sarah Payne, the proprietor of Avenging Angel Detective Agency, and Alicia Miller, the widow of the owner of Miller Envelopes. Sarah embarks on a new case in Niagara Falls, going undercover for Charles Kendall of Kendall Electrolytic Abrasives. She must figure out who is trying to sabotage productivity at the factory. Will Sarah be able to navigate the world of industrial espionage, tangled relationships, and dangerous alliances to uncover the truth before it's too late? Meanwhile, Alicia is determined to take charge of her late husband's company. She must think outside the box to stay relevant and make her mark in a male-dominated world. Will she be able to navigate the world of sales and boardrooms and secure her future?

Robert Brighton’s Current of Darkness is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The plot unfolds skillfully, with intertwining narratives from various perspectives. As the third book in the series, Current of Darkness can still be read as a standalone, even though various threads in the story and characters involved have been carried over from previous books in the series. I loved the vivid descriptions, which brought the Gilded Age setting to life with its rich historical details. I could picture the scenes, feeling like a viewer as each played out. Brighton has created a diverse array of characters in this series, and not just the main cast, with each standing out for their own reasons. I particularly enjoyed the side story of Harry and Ruth, which seamlessly blended into the narrative. Although the main story focuses on two primary points, there are enough characters and subplots to keep the plot interesting. Even the main characters are enhanced by their flaws and failures, making their eventual triumphs over their trials all the more satisfying. With its compelling plot and well-drawn characters, Current of Darkness is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and suspense alike.

Demetria Head

Current of Darkness: Desire and Deceit in the Gilded Age by Robert Brighton immerses readers in a captivating narrative that intertwines industrial espionage, romance, and treachery against the backdrop of Niagara Falls. The story follows the tenacious Sarah Payne, whose quest for truth leads her into the clandestine realm of union bosses, saboteurs, and magnates, including the enigmatic Charles Kendall, whose intentions toward Sarah remain ambiguous, igniting a captivating dynamic. Simultaneously, the alluring Alicia Miller, a determined widow, endeavors to assert her authority over her late husband's company, only to encounter resistance from the new majority owner, who challenges conventional gender roles in the business world. However, Alicia's cunning and allure prove formidable assets as she navigates the cutthroat environment, determined to emerge victorious.

Robert Brighton masterfully weaves a tale of intrigue and ambition, painting a vivid portrait of a bygone era characterized by opulence and duplicity. His meticulous attention to historical detail transports readers to a time of rapid industrialization and societal upheaval, where power dynamics are in flux, and individuals must navigate a treacherous landscape fraught with peril and opportunity. Fans of historical fiction will be enthralled by Current of Darkness, as it skillfully combines elements of mystery, romance, and historical realism. Robert Brighton's richly developed characters and intricate plotlines ensure that readers will be swept away by the allure of the Gilded Age, eagerly turning pages to uncover the secrets lurking beneath its glittering surface. With its blend of suspense and historical authenticity, this novel is sure to captivate audiences seeking an immersive journey into a fascinating period of American history. Readers of historical fiction will find Current of Darkness a compelling addition to their bookshelf. Its seamless fusion of mystery, romance, and authentic historical detail promises an engrossing journey into the intrigue of the era, making it a must-read for those seeking an immersive literary escape.

Grant Leishman

Current of Darkness: Desire and Deceit in the Gilded Age by Robert Brighton is a detective story with a difference. Set in Niagara Falls at the start of the twentieth century, the story revolves around the resourceful and successful private detective Sarah Payne. Niagara Falls is critically important to industry in the region for one reason; the power of its water. Water headed over the falls is diverted into a series of tunnels that drop hundreds of feet down the falls to power turbines and supply the most needed of elements for industry; electricity. Charles Kendall is a highly successful businessman who has utilized the power of Niagara Falls to achieve great wealth. When he discovers that he is not receiving all the water he has purchased to drive his turbines and power his business, he realizes something nefarious must be happening. Someone is interrupting the flow of water and it must be exposed, at all costs. When he hires the beautiful Sarah Payne to investigate, he quickly becomes captivated by both the woman Sarah Payne as well as the quick-thinking, smart detective Sarah Payne. Alicia Miller, a young widow, is also attempting to establish herself in a man’s world as she takes over part of her murdered husband’s business operations despite strong opposition from the new majority owner who has his own opinions about women’s place in society. Can Sarah and Alicia set aside their differences and operate together in this male-dominated business world?

Current of Darkness is a wonderful exposition of women achieving in a man’s world; sometimes using their most basic of attractions to gain an advantage over the men who generally rule their world. Robert Brighton has created two distinctly different and yet pleasantly similar characters in Sarah and Alicia. Both understand the difficulties they face operating in a business environment dominated by men who view them as little more than playthings in their important world of decision-making and business. The women both overtly and subtly use their sexuality to achieve things that may not have been possible if they were men and, for the time, they are refreshingly open about their desires, their needs, and their objectives in life. I particularly appreciated the brash, sexually aggressive Alicia who was never afraid to use the talents at her disposal to get her way. In that respect, she was a woman before her time, not afraid of her sexuality in an era when demureness and acquiescence to a man’s needs, wants, and desires were considered to be the height of femininity. It took courage, fortitude, and a thick skin for Sarah to work in the private detective field and for Alicia to be prepared to enter the domain of business. Each of these women is resourceful, clever, and capable of besting most men. Alicia’s relationship with the patient and understanding Bert was fascinating and spoke volumes of his grasp of a woman’s needs and the difference between sex and love. This is a fun, exciting read and I look forward to the next iteration of Sarah's detective adventures.