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Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders
Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries, No 5
Gyles Brandreth

May 8, 2012 / ISBN 1439153736
Historical Suspense

Reviewed 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!

Reviewed 2012
© 2012