Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.
What if he solved mysteries?
Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle team up
By Chelyen Davis
BOOKSHELVES these days are awash with mystery novels featuring famous characters or authors. What if Jane Austen solved mysteries? (She’s now done just that in at least one 11-book series.) What if one of literature’s most famous couples, Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth and Darcy solved mysteries?
What if Oscar Wilde solved mysteries?
That is the premise of Gyles Brandreth’s series, most recently in “Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders.” And it answers this questionproves this: If Oscar Wilde solved mysteries, the resulting story would be light but entertaining.
As the novel opens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has retreated to a German spa with a suitcase full of backed-up fan mail, mostly from people who seem to think Sherlock Holmes is real.
There he encounters his friend Wilde, who, as the book is set in 1892, is still years away from his fall from grace. Bored, Wilde agrees to help Conan Doyle with his correspondence. When a series of packages arrives containing more than letters—a lock of hair, a finger and finally a severed hand—Wilde is intrigued. The clues seem to relate to Rome and the pope’s recent death, and, pushed by Wilde’s enthusiasm, the pair head to the Vatican to investigate. What they find will lead them to the pope’s innermost circle.
Readers don’t need to have read the previous books in the series to keep up with “Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders.” It’s an easy read, written in a style similar to novels from the era in which it’s set, and Wilde and Conan Doyle make for an entertaining and well-matched pair of detectives.
Chelyen Davis is a reporter with The Free Lance-Star.
OSCAR WILDE AND THE VATICAN MURDERS
By Gyles Brandreth
(Touchstone, $14, 368 pp.)
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