Edward Glyver, a bibliophile-turned-avenger in 19th-century London, begins his confession by describing his first act of murder. Michael Cox captures the period's mores and atmosphere, successfully making an unlikable character, with an affinity for pomp and prostitutes, compelling. If only Cox's plotting were as thorough as his knowledge of obscure literature, exhaustively footnoted throughout. Unfortunately, the ''mystery'' of why Glyver seeks revenge is easily solvable near the halfway point. Though entertaining, The Meaning of Night is missing the big payoff one expects from a book that approaches 700 pages.