Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries, No 5
May 8, 2012 / ISBN 1439153736
by Bob Walch
After I finished this novel I realize I have some catching up
or backfilling to do. I enjoyed it so much I'll have to go back
and read the four earlier titles in this exceptional series.
Gyles Brandreth has placed Oscar Wilde, of all people, at the
center of this historical set of mysteries. Wilde and his good friend
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle make a formidable and very attractive investigative
team. In this caper a small hand, a lock of hair and a severed finger
with a distinctive ring on it provide the catalyst that sets this
case in motion. All three items are sent in separate containers
to Sherlock Holmes. No message is attached but the containers do
carry a Rome postmark.
Determined to figure out exactly what's going on here, Doyle and
Wilde head for the Eternal City where they launch an investigation
that takes them to the Vatican's innermost circle and the six men
who are closest to the pope.
The mystery will involve both a past murder and one of far more
recent vintage as well as an exposé of the character foibles
of some rather important people. While in Rome, Wilde and Doyle
enlist the support of a local, eccentric doctor named Dr. Axel Munthe.
The doctor has been dubbed "Doctor Death" for the assistance
he provides some patients when it comes time to meet their Maker!
This clever piece of fiction allows Wilde to quip his way through
the story while exhibiting his wry sense of humor and his love of
the "finer things in life". Of course, the controversial
writer is an astute, observant and clever individual, which allows
him to play "Sherlock Holmes" to Doyle's "Dr. Watson".
An intriguing plot and very engaging characters make this a quick
and very satisfying read. Once you've sampled one of these "Wilde"
novels, you'll want, like me, to go back and read the rest if you
haven't already done so. That, in itself, is very high praise!