Review: The Oscar Wilde Mysteries by Gyles Brandreth

Summary of Book 1: Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (from http://www.oscarwildemurdermysteries.com/index.html) :

London, 1889. Oscar Wilde, celebrated poet, wit, playwright and raconteur, is the literary sensation of his age. All Europe lies at his feet. Yet when he chances upon the naked corpse of sixteen-year-old Billy Wood, posed by candlelight in a dark and stifling upstairs room, he cannot ignore the brutal murder. With the help of fellow author Arthur Conan Doyle, he sets out to solve the crime – and it is Wilde’s peculiar genius and his unparalleled access to all degrees of late-Victorian life – from society drawing rooms and the bohemian demi-monde to the criminal underclass – that prove the decisive factors in their investigation of what turns out to be the first in a series of bizarre and apparently inexplicable killings.

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders is a gripping detective story that explores the secret world of Oscar Wilde – his surprising friendships, his complex marriage, and his unusual association with Inspector Aidan Fraser of Scotland Yard.

Set against the exotic backdrop of fin-de-siècle London and Paris, Gyles Brandreth evokes Oscar Wilde’s trademark wit and brilliance with huge flair, intertwining all the intrigue of the classic English murder mystery with a compelling portrait of one of the greatest characters of the Victorian age.

Summary of Book 2: Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (from http://www.oscarwildemurdermysteries.com/index.html) :

The second witty installment in an astonishingly authentic historical murder mystery series featuring detective Oscar Wilde and his partner-in-crime, Arthur Conan Doyle

It’s 1892, and Wilde is the toast of London, riding high on the success of his play Lady Windermere’s Fan and celebrating with friends at a dinner party where he conjures up a game called “murder” that begs the question: Who would you kill, if you had no chance of being caught? Wilde and friends, including Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and poet Robert Sherard (the novel’s narrator) write the names of their “victims” on pieces of paper and choose them one by one. After leaving the party, Wilde scoffs at the suggestion that he may have instigated a very dangerous game indeed….

The very next day, the game takes an all-too sinister turn when the first “victim” turns up dead. Soon Wilde and his band of amateur detectives must travel through the realms of politics, theater, and even the circus and the boxing ring to unearth misguided passions that have the potential to become deadly poisons…not only for the perpetrators of the seemingly perfect crimes, but also for the trio of detectives investigating them.

Richly atmospheric and as entertaining as Wilde himself, here is the second in a series destined to delight mystery readers and fans of historical fiction alike.

Summary of Book 3: Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile (from http://www.oscarwildemurdermysteries.com/index.html) :

Paris, 1883. Oscar Wilde, aged 27, has come to the city of decadence to discover its charms, to rekindle his friendship with the divine Sarah Bernhardt and to collaborate with France’s most celebrated actor-manager, Edmond La Grange.

As he throws himself into his work (and his pleasures), Oscar discovers dark secrets lying at the heart of the La Grange company – and is confronted by murders, both foul and bizarre. To solve the crimes, to unravel the mystery, Oscar risks his life – and his reputation – embarking on a dangerous adventure that takes him from bohemian night clubs to an asylum for the insane, from a duel in the Buttes de Chaumont to the gates of Reading Gaol.

This is the third in Gyles Brandreth’s acclaimed series of Victorian murder mysteries featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Review:

I absolutely loved all three stories! We are introduced to Wilde at the beginning of his career – he’s quite well known in London, but is only now gaining fame world-wide. In the midst of writing his most famous works, Wilde, Conan Doyle, and Robert Sherard (grandson of Wordsworth) solve mysteries that baffle the officers at Scotland Yard.

Brandreth’s writing is clear and immaculately researched that he paints such a vivid image of Wilde in all his ostentatious glory, that I felt like I got to know Oscar Wilde the man, which of course meant that I went back and re-read The Portrait of Dorian Gray and his other works so I understood the references, and could “talk” to Wilde, metaphorically, of course 🙂

The bottom line is that I can’t say enough good things about these novels. If you love mysteries, and especially if you love Oscar Wilde, these exquisitely entertaining novels are for you! Such fun!

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