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Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile

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Playwright and raconteur Oscar Wilde embarks on another adventure as he sets sail for America in the 1880s on a roller coaster of a lecture tour. But the adventure doesn't truly begin until Oscar boards an ocean liner headed back across the Atlantic and joins a motley crew led by French impresario Edmond La Grange. As Oscar becomes entangled with the La Grange acting dynas Playwright and raconteur Oscar Wilde embarks on another adventure as he sets sail for America in the 1880s on a roller coaster of a lecture tour. But the adventure doesn't truly begin until Oscar boards an ocean liner headed back across the Atlantic and joins a motley crew led by French impresario Edmond La Grange. As Oscar becomes entangled with the La Grange acting dynasty, he suspects that all is not as it seems. What begins with a curious death at sea soon escalates to a series of increasingly macabre tragedies once the troupe arrives in Paris to perform Hamlet. A strange air of indifference surrounds these seemingly random events, inciting Oscar to dig deeper, aided by his friends Robert Sherard and the divine Sarah Bernhardt. What he discovers is a horrifying secret -- one that may bring him closer to his own last chapter than anyone could have imagined. As intelligent as it is beguiling, this third installment in the richly historical mystery series is sure to captivate and entertain.


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Playwright and raconteur Oscar Wilde embarks on another adventure as he sets sail for America in the 1880s on a roller coaster of a lecture tour. But the adventure doesn't truly begin until Oscar boards an ocean liner headed back across the Atlantic and joins a motley crew led by French impresario Edmond La Grange. As Oscar becomes entangled with the La Grange acting dynas Playwright and raconteur Oscar Wilde embarks on another adventure as he sets sail for America in the 1880s on a roller coaster of a lecture tour. But the adventure doesn't truly begin until Oscar boards an ocean liner headed back across the Atlantic and joins a motley crew led by French impresario Edmond La Grange. As Oscar becomes entangled with the La Grange acting dynasty, he suspects that all is not as it seems. What begins with a curious death at sea soon escalates to a series of increasingly macabre tragedies once the troupe arrives in Paris to perform Hamlet. A strange air of indifference surrounds these seemingly random events, inciting Oscar to dig deeper, aided by his friends Robert Sherard and the divine Sarah Bernhardt. What he discovers is a horrifying secret -- one that may bring him closer to his own last chapter than anyone could have imagined. As intelligent as it is beguiling, this third installment in the richly historical mystery series is sure to captivate and entertain.

30 review for Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Marvellous book with Oscar Wilde as detective. A series of mysterious deaths, aboard ship and in France, see Oscar Wilde and Robert Sherard (a real life friend of Wilde's, who later became a journalist) seeking a killer. The joy of this book, apart from Wilde's delicious bon mots, is the fact that Gyles Brandreth has tucked the story into a real part of Oscar's life. He really was in the places Brandreth puts him at the times he is in the book. However, he most likely wasn't solving crimes at the Marvellous book with Oscar Wilde as detective. A series of mysterious deaths, aboard ship and in France, see Oscar Wilde and Robert Sherard (a real life friend of Wilde's, who later became a journalist) seeking a killer. The joy of this book, apart from Wilde's delicious bon mots, is the fact that Gyles Brandreth has tucked the story into a real part of Oscar's life. He really was in the places Brandreth puts him at the times he is in the book. However, he most likely wasn't solving crimes at the time! Brandreth is a reknowned Wildean, and he and his family knew or simply met, many of the characters in the book. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Devanshi Gupta

    It was a tedious read. Even though it got really good as the end approached, it was nevertheless a tedious read and required a certain amount of concentration. Still I quite enjoyed certain parts of it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    There's nothing particularly unpleasant about this book, it just took me awhile to get through it. The author (a BBC broadcaster and former member of Parliament) weaves history with fiction throughout the book. That said, I knew that he really couldn't tarnish the names of Oscar Wilde and Robert Sherard while incorporating a murder mystery. He did paint a witty, ingenious portrait of Oscar Wilde which made me feel like I knew him personally. Robert Sherard, sometimes, not as smart. Maybe that wa There's nothing particularly unpleasant about this book, it just took me awhile to get through it. The author (a BBC broadcaster and former member of Parliament) weaves history with fiction throughout the book. That said, I knew that he really couldn't tarnish the names of Oscar Wilde and Robert Sherard while incorporating a murder mystery. He did paint a witty, ingenious portrait of Oscar Wilde which made me feel like I knew him personally. Robert Sherard, sometimes, not as smart. Maybe that was his demeanor in real life. The author hinted to the undertones of homosexuality with other characters but never completely with Oscar Wilde, even though he was said to have had many gay lovers. Reading this book you would think he was a flamboyantly dressed ladies' man That is neither here nor there. I give the first 3/4 of the book 2 stars but the ending 3 stars because it had a nice twist (that Robert could not discern). All in all, fun- if not a chore to get through at times.

  4. 4 out of 5

    shanghao

    Smoother than the first two books in terms of Oscar Wilde’s character setting. I was prepared for it to be just “Ok” as I, like Sherard, was ready to accept things at face value (even if it felt inadequate), but thankfully the epilogue made up for it. Still, the fictional characters weren’t all that exciting for me, so there’s that. I rather enjoyed the author’s notes and mini-interview at the end. Appreciate the meticulous research and easy flourish with which the writing is delivered. A traditio Smoother than the first two books in terms of Oscar Wilde’s character setting. I was prepared for it to be just “Ok” as I, like Sherard, was ready to accept things at face value (even if it felt inadequate), but thankfully the epilogue made up for it. Still, the fictional characters weren’t all that exciting for me, so there’s that. I rather enjoyed the author’s notes and mini-interview at the end. Appreciate the meticulous research and easy flourish with which the writing is delivered. A traditional British cozy mystery (with the all-important Irish) in the best of eras for British mystery stories, indeed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    It's a testament to Brandreth's talent that each successive Oscar Wilde Mystery reveals more about the character and is just as enjoyable as what proceeded it. This is particularly noteworthy as I was rather apprehensive about this volume as this is the first one that doesn't follow chronologically. Well, that's not entirely true. The frame story follows the previous two, but the bulk of the story takes place in 1881-82 in the United States, London and Paris. I was wondering how this would play o It's a testament to Brandreth's talent that each successive Oscar Wilde Mystery reveals more about the character and is just as enjoyable as what proceeded it. This is particularly noteworthy as I was rather apprehensive about this volume as this is the first one that doesn't follow chronologically. Well, that's not entirely true. The frame story follows the previous two, but the bulk of the story takes place in 1881-82 in the United States, London and Paris. I was wondering how this would play out since A Death of No Importance seemed to suggest that was Wilde's first attempt at playing a Holmes like character. Luckily, I found no contradictions but instead saw a Wilde that was occasionally fooled or surprised even as he was keenly observant. Plus, this volume also gives us his first meeting with Robert Sherard back when Sherard was only 21 and Wilde was 28. Without spoiling anything, I'm glad the frame story of Wilde talking with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who had to show up somehow after all) adds more beyond what Sherard recorded of the sordid tale of the La Grange theatre. After reading Wilde's synopsis of what truly occurred I felt some plot threads were ignored, but luckily, Brandreth hadn't forgotten. I say that so if you don't feel as let down as I was until I saw there was another chapter. My only real complaint is I still have no idea who the dead man in the title is, unless it's the character mentioned at the very end of the book. If so it wasn't very clear, but that's pretty petty after all. I eagerly look forward to getting a hold of the next volume.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    While I say that I read this novel, I would be vaugely lying. I skimmed it, which was a shame since I really wanted to enjoy this book. Oscar Wilde coupled with a murder-mystery? How can you get any better than that? It was more the style of writing that put me off. I was determined to not have to put this book on my 'didn't-finish' shelf, because I was actually excited to read it. First and foremost, the chapter layout was a particular mess, although this is a minor defect considering only the se While I say that I read this novel, I would be vaugely lying. I skimmed it, which was a shame since I really wanted to enjoy this book. Oscar Wilde coupled with a murder-mystery? How can you get any better than that? It was more the style of writing that put me off. I was determined to not have to put this book on my 'didn't-finish' shelf, because I was actually excited to read it. First and foremost, the chapter layout was a particular mess, although this is a minor defect considering only the second chapter was off. It skipped from first person from the view point of Robert Sherard to a curious, very biographical and very iffy chapter on Oscar's voyage to America which seemed more like an Introductory note than a chapter and would probably serve better as the prologue or something akin. I also found it very slow, though I could see that it was trying to replicate the storytelling abilities of the Victorian era. Aside from the poor writing which unfortunately put me off it completely, the portrayal of Oscar Wilde was quite beautiful and was exactly how one should-and how I-imagine Oscar Wilde would have spoken, acted and looked. Disappointing, but what can you do.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Gyles Brandreth's series of Oscar Wilde mysteries continues with a tale centred on Paris with trips to Colorado, New York and London inbetween. The tale has a theatrical background with Sarah Bernhardt featuring strongly as Edmond La Grange, himself a top actor/manager, taking centre stage. He has his family with him, son, daughter and mother as between them they play and produce the perfect Hamlet. Unfortunately things happen that disrupt the proceedings dramatically and it is left to Oscar Wilde Gyles Brandreth's series of Oscar Wilde mysteries continues with a tale centred on Paris with trips to Colorado, New York and London inbetween. The tale has a theatrical background with Sarah Bernhardt featuring strongly as Edmond La Grange, himself a top actor/manager, taking centre stage. He has his family with him, son, daughter and mother as between them they play and produce the perfect Hamlet. Unfortunately things happen that disrupt the proceedings dramatically and it is left to Oscar Wilde, who later relates everything to his pal Arthur Conan Doyle, to determine what exactly has happened. Ane everything does not happen as it would appear, or as Felix Malthus of the Prefecture of Police thinks it has. Fortunately Wilde, full of his usual witticisms and sagacity, with the help of Robert Sherard, who relates the tale as a faithful Watson, eventually unveils the culprit. Brandreth captures the age superbly and from the very first easily transports the reader into 19th century mode.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. This third one left me cold, unfortunately, and I did not finish it. The first two books really provided exposure to the witty, sparkling personality that we have come to know as Wilde`s - the clever comments, the snappy repartee with all those around him. I felt like that was missing in the first 10 chapters of this installment (where I stopped). This book also felt very slow-paced to me. The murder had not yet occurred at chapter nine, and the I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. This third one left me cold, unfortunately, and I did not finish it. The first two books really provided exposure to the witty, sparkling personality that we have come to know as Wilde`s - the clever comments, the snappy repartee with all those around him. I felt like that was missing in the first 10 chapters of this installment (where I stopped). This book also felt very slow-paced to me. The murder had not yet occurred at chapter nine, and the activities that did happen were not anything that seemed remotely relevant or interesting (at least, not to me). The setting may be part of the problem - Wilde takes an ocean voyage in the early part of the book - and while it is certainly possible that those events connect to the rest of the book`s plot, I just didn`t care enough about them to stay with it. I would consider future installments of the series, as I really did enjoy the first two. This one didn`t work for me, but I like the concept. This may just be an anomaly of subject that wasn`t a fit for my interest.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I was pretty much convinced that I would read all these "Oscar Wilde" mysteries, because I so enjoyed A Death of No Importance. I didn't like this one as much, though it was still a fun read. While the first book focused on both story and style, this one was primarily the latter—I often found myself wondering what the plot was, and if they did anything but drink absinthe and champagne at all hours of the day. These stories are based on real people, and Brandreth tries to bring them to life, and I was pretty much convinced that I would read all these "Oscar Wilde" mysteries, because I so enjoyed A Death of No Importance. I didn't like this one as much, though it was still a fun read. While the first book focused on both story and style, this one was primarily the latter—I often found myself wondering what the plot was, and if they did anything but drink absinthe and champagne at all hours of the day. These stories are based on real people, and Brandreth tries to bring them to life, and they're all so crazy that I wonder how they ever existed. And why I don't know anyone like them. For me, the epilogue was the best part. It tied up loose ends (as a proper mystery conclusion should) and revealed aspects that were important though I didn't think so at the time (I would make a terrible detective). The mystery aspect itself was a little lost throughout the story, but the grand revealing made up for it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    The law of diminishing returns seems to have caught up with this series, and we still have three more books to go through before this series, that had ostensibly sought to capture Wilde-Doyle duo as the real life Holmes-Watson (but established the claim to be an outrageous lie in the very first book), comes to a close. This one, almost entirely based on shenanigans of 1880-s Parisians (mostly actors, if that justifies the portrayal), was pretty tiresome, and even Oscar Wilde's delightful wit cou The law of diminishing returns seems to have caught up with this series, and we still have three more books to go through before this series, that had ostensibly sought to capture Wilde-Doyle duo as the real life Holmes-Watson (but established the claim to be an outrageous lie in the very first book), comes to a close. This one, almost entirely based on shenanigans of 1880-s Parisians (mostly actors, if that justifies the portrayal), was pretty tiresome, and even Oscar Wilde's delightful wit couldn't provide it with enough pace or fascination. Not Good.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul Holden

    Definitely not a typical crime book but curiously enjoyable. The plot didn’t get going before my hundred page cut off, but still I gave it a chance. Probably due to the interesting characters. It got there in the end but, most importantly, I didn’t guess the mystery. I’d read more of this series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile is both a sequel and a prequel. The initial interaction takes place after the events in Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder, but the body of the work follows a conceit that Wilde’s admiring protégé (not to be confused with other roles that might have been played by young men in Wilde’s life) had written a memoir of his first experiences with Oscar and that the mystery or mysteries involved were wrapped around their exploits. And so it is that the adventure m Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile is both a sequel and a prequel. The initial interaction takes place after the events in Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder, but the body of the work follows a conceit that Wilde’s admiring protégé (not to be confused with other roles that might have been played by young men in Wilde’s life) had written a memoir of his first experiences with Oscar and that the mystery or mysteries involved were wrapped around their exploits. And so it is that the adventure moves back in time to Oscar’s triumphal (and enriching) tour of the 19th century United States and, through brief encounters in London, to the Paris of decadence and an association with Edmond La Grange’s famous acting company. Indeed, there is something of the macabre in the way the trail of events and clues are scattered carelessly through the narrative. One isn’t even certain, at some points in the narrative, whether the numerous deaths are actually connected. Such appearances merely add to the chaotic character of Wilde’s desire to experience everything—the heights of ecstasy and the dregs of despair—in order to have truly lived life. I must confess that two-thirds of the way through the novel, I still wanted to pin the tail on suspects which previous evidence had ruled out. At that point, I was still unclear as to the motive behind killing anyone, much less the attempts on Wilde’s life. What can I say? Brandreth kept me in suspense for the bulk of the novel. I let my emotions get in the way of my sleuthing skills. As in the other volumes, I found the best lines to be clever infusions of real sayings from Oscar Wilde and those the poet, novelist, playwright, and bon vivant appropriated from people like James Russell Lowell and other wits of the age. Yet, novelist Gyles Brandreth isn’t a slouch at wordsmithing. I loved phrases that seemed to be throwaway lines like the parenthetical sentence after a minor character held an obnoxious old woman’s hand. This read: “Not knowing her well, he instinctively offered her the comfort that those close to her no longer could.” (pp. 266-7) But, of course, if one chooses someone as ostentatious as Oscar Wilde to be one’s protagonist, one must expect to be upstaged. Yet, even Oscar is willing to be upstaged. As protagonist, he reminds us once again that the person who desires to be considered witty will often draw arrows from the quiver of another. Quoting Lowell, he states, “What men prize most is a privilege, even if it be that of chief mourner at a funeral.” (p. 245) How could one hope to match some of the sayings which follow. “To become a spectator of one’s own life is to escape the suffering of life, I find.” (p. 28) In describing the great actor’s stories, Wilde called them “base lies” which “contain a higher truth.” (p. 32) On page 68, Wilde chides Sherrard for not adopting some of his grandfather’s (William Wordsworth’s) work: “Plagiarism is the privilege of the appreciative man.” Brandeth masterfully works these jewels (bon mots) into dialogues in all the books of this series. He even quotes from Wilde’s essay on criticism on pp. 257-8. I really stopped to think about Sarah Bernhardt’s gibe at Oscar when she says, “Writers describe. Actors inhabit.” (p. 88) I only chuckled when Oscar explained to Robert why he wasn’t interested in financial details with the oft-quoted, “It is only people who pay their bills who want money and I never pay mine.” (p. 193) And I could certainly see a glimpse of the authentic Wilde when he states: “I am in awe of those determined to fulfill their destiny—whatever the cost.” (p. 221) Finally, let me suggest that every novel I have experienced in this series has been worth reading and, at times, worth savoring. In parting, let me quote these words upon which to cogitate: “Creativity, we’re told, is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.” (p. 280)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marthese Formosa

    Actually a 4.5 star book. Another great roller-coaster and witty read. I found this book to be more dark and more problematic than the previous book in terms not of open-relationships and drug use but in terms of views and speech on women, animals, mental health, racism and the brute prison system. These theme may be triggering. At the same time, as a historical fiction mystery book, it did its job. It showed the dark side of the time but also the bright side. In many aspects, the 1880s were open Actually a 4.5 star book. Another great roller-coaster and witty read. I found this book to be more dark and more problematic than the previous book in terms not of open-relationships and drug use but in terms of views and speech on women, animals, mental health, racism and the brute prison system. These theme may be triggering. At the same time, as a historical fiction mystery book, it did its job. It showed the dark side of the time but also the bright side. In many aspects, the 1880s were open about most things - sex, same-sex relationships and drugs (lots of drugs). Again, on a historical note, you would think that people would be quite reserved at that time but actually, intimate touches to the face and so on, were quite common and the book shows it. The characters, most of whom were not likeable, did their job. I quite enjoyed Sarah Bernhardt! I loved her before and now I love her even more. All the characters are apparently flawed; very realistic. I would have liked a bit more queerness to this (especially Oscar's and Sarah's - were where her women lovers?), but perhaps that's me asking for too much? Garstrange and La Grange had me confused, and I was not the only one! The author himself made one mistake in my edition of the book. There will be a lot of instances where you think 'what an asshole' about one particular character (and some instances in which you think it about some others). Oscar's character, and Robert's and Sarah's, shines through. The wit, the complacency, the extravagance. A lot of great run-on-lines and catch phrases of course! Now, to the actual mystery! The mystery is a set of mysteries, most of which involve a death of a cast member or staff with La Companie La Grange. Of course, we only get to know at the end what happened. It really was a roller-coaster. Perhaps, what I enjoyed most about the mystery, is that we are made to think we were wrong, the mystery seems to be solved but...there are still around 30 more pages and in them, the mystery is solved again in 'present' times since the actual mystery occurred some 8 or so years previous to the initial scene in the book. Small or seemingly day-to-day events and dialogues inserted throughout the book, seem to click in the end and they were shown to be as clues. This is what a great mystery does. I was sad for 2 deaths and dismayed by 2 others; one I actually was happy about although that one brought about a whole new problem. Would have loved to see Oscar flirt with Bernard (but Bernard flirted with Rollinat and the understudy). I liked the French language elements, and was glad to understand most of them! Really great continuation of the series. Read it in three days (except first chapter). Looking forward to read the next one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Although the premise of a famous historical luminary assuming the mantle of amateur detective is nothing new, I found the idea of having Oscar Wilde as a sleuth inspired. He was famously a very witty and intelligent man, so it doesn’t take too much of a dramatic leap in thinking to suggest he had a head for solving mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of this book. The author does an excellent job not only with the mysteries plausibility and plotting, but with the characterisation and Although the premise of a famous historical luminary assuming the mantle of amateur detective is nothing new, I found the idea of having Oscar Wilde as a sleuth inspired. He was famously a very witty and intelligent man, so it doesn’t take too much of a dramatic leap in thinking to suggest he had a head for solving mysteries. I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of this book. The author does an excellent job not only with the mysteries plausibility and plotting, but with the characterisation and setting. Reading his description of Paris in the late Victorian era, it gives you an enormous sense of what it must have been like to live in such a romantic and creative community of artists, writers, poets and actors. There is also a surprisingly tragic side to the story, culminating in the abject destruction of a family’s entire way of life. The narrative, although reminiscent of many author’s attempts to emulate Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, actually works really well. The fact it isn’t from Oscar Wilde’s point of view, but from that of a young man still yet to experience all that life has to offer; means that an air of mystery surrounds everything about the great man. I imagine that this is not far away from the truth, as Oscar Wilde was such an eccentric and in some ways enigmatic person. If you are looking for historical detective fiction, that is well written and engaging, then you will love this book. I enjoyed it so much I am now scouring book shops and libraries, whenever I can for other novels in the series. I cannot sing the writer’s praises enough. We may disagree totally in our political ideals, but as a write and a reader we are most definitely compatible

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandie

    Clever and unusual murders and the solution to the mystery aside, the historical aspects of the novel are engaging as are the salacious peeks into the dark underbelly of late nineteenth century Paris. Known to one and all for his pithy witticisms as well as his ability to regurgitate the equally amusing social observations of others, Oscar comes across as a varitable warehouse of pronouncements arrived at following intelligent scrutiny of the human animal, i.e., "The foolish and the dead alone n Clever and unusual murders and the solution to the mystery aside, the historical aspects of the novel are engaging as are the salacious peeks into the dark underbelly of late nineteenth century Paris. Known to one and all for his pithy witticisms as well as his ability to regurgitate the equally amusing social observations of others, Oscar comes across as a varitable warehouse of pronouncements arrived at following intelligent scrutiny of the human animal, i.e., "The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions", or "In the ocean of baseness, the deeper we get, the easier the sinking", or "Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read". While the story does address Wilde's flamboyant style of dress and his preference for large amounts of absinthe and laudanum (opium/morphine) it neatly skirts his questionable sexual orientation and presents him as a man completely enamored of Constance Lloyd (the woman whom he later married). This is a forgivable sin, since Brandreth's Oscar is as completely captivating and entertaining a protagonist as one could ask for. For anyone who enjoys their historical fiction liberally peppered with recognizable names coupled with an amusing, relatively easy read, OSCAR WILDE AND THE DEAD MAN'S SMILE are well worth your time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Anyone who does not yet know that I am an Oscar Wilde fan has not been paying attention. Thus, when I saw Gyles Brandreth's book on the shelf at my local library, I had to give the story a go. Brandreth has taken several real-life incidents from Wilde's life and built a clever and complex murder mystery around them. The main action takes place in Paris, during the time in which Wilde translated "Hamlet" into French for a local theatre group. Murders begin to plague the company, along with hints o Anyone who does not yet know that I am an Oscar Wilde fan has not been paying attention. Thus, when I saw Gyles Brandreth's book on the shelf at my local library, I had to give the story a go. Brandreth has taken several real-life incidents from Wilde's life and built a clever and complex murder mystery around them. The main action takes place in Paris, during the time in which Wilde translated "Hamlet" into French for a local theatre group. Murders begin to plague the company, along with hints of madness, addiction and more. Brandreth has clearly researched his subject matter, accurately reproducing Victorian London, fin de siecle Paris and the theatrical milieu for his readers. He seems to inhabit Wilde in his characterization and thus creates a very entertaining book that fans of Wilde and murder mysteries alike are certain to enjoy. Highly recommended for Sherlock Holmes fans as well, as Arthur Conan Doyle makes his appearance at the beginning and end of the tale.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Great fun and a nice blending of fiction and fantasy...in these books Oscar Wilde becomes a Sherlock Holmes type character the ready wit and the eccentric clothing work well in developing this persona. This book follows Oscar to the United States and then onto France where he becomes involved with a acting dynasty of note...tragedy upon tragedy occur and Wilde who is at the centre of the social whirl becomes involved in exposing events...multiple suicides...could murder by one hand or more. Things Great fun and a nice blending of fiction and fantasy...in these books Oscar Wilde becomes a Sherlock Holmes type character the ready wit and the eccentric clothing work well in developing this persona. This book follows Oscar to the United States and then onto France where he becomes involved with a acting dynasty of note...tragedy upon tragedy occur and Wilde who is at the centre of the social whirl becomes involved in exposing events...multiple suicides...could murder by one hand or more. Things seem neatly summed up before the tale ends ..however the closing chapters reveal all isn't quite as it seems. Why only three stars when I rate this reasonably highly?...well as detective fiction I have read better but this is enjoyable enough and Gyles Brandreth's love and intellectual awareness of Wilde shine through..this is the second of these books I have read..I will read on..

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liriel27

    Oh, I did NOT like the style of this one. I understand the conceit, but just as Conan Doyle does in the second half of "Study in Scarlet," there's a weird and off-putting distance to the writing here. Conan Doyle gets away with it because he's Conan Doyle, and that particular part isn't about Sherlock. Brandreth is not Conan Doyle. He needs to keep the immediacy of having his audience "with" his Sherlock (Wilde) all the way - especially if Sherard is going to get it wrong anyway. The story isn't Oh, I did NOT like the style of this one. I understand the conceit, but just as Conan Doyle does in the second half of "Study in Scarlet," there's a weird and off-putting distance to the writing here. Conan Doyle gets away with it because he's Conan Doyle, and that particular part isn't about Sherlock. Brandreth is not Conan Doyle. He needs to keep the immediacy of having his audience "with" his Sherlock (Wilde) all the way - especially if Sherard is going to get it wrong anyway. The story isn't bad, but this book dragged for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Verity W

    I enjoyed this one (another from the library book pile) which was back in time from the previous installments in the series and had plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. I still think some of the foreshadowing of later events is a bit clunky, but then it must be really difficult to write a book about someone whose exploits are so well known and put in realistic nods to the future without seeming corny and or obvious. I'll continue to work my way through the series - from the library I enjoyed this one (another from the library book pile) which was back in time from the previous installments in the series and had plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. I still think some of the foreshadowing of later events is a bit clunky, but then it must be really difficult to write a book about someone whose exploits are so well known and put in realistic nods to the future without seeming corny and or obvious. I'll continue to work my way through the series - from the library though as they're not ones I think I'd read again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mags Delaney

    I enjoyed this story - I listened to it on audiobook in the car to and from the theatre where I work part time so it entertained me on lots of levels. Thankfully have yet to deal with actors full of chamagne and laudanum and such completely entangled and complicated off stage lives! Oscar Wilde is a fascinating person anyway and even though this story is fictional I could imagine him being amused being cast in the role of detective. An entertaining distraction to compliment the academic tomes th I enjoyed this story - I listened to it on audiobook in the car to and from the theatre where I work part time so it entertained me on lots of levels. Thankfully have yet to deal with actors full of chamagne and laudanum and such completely entangled and complicated off stage lives! Oscar Wilde is a fascinating person anyway and even though this story is fictional I could imagine him being amused being cast in the role of detective. An entertaining distraction to compliment the academic tomes that I am currently studying!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elysa

    The mystery part of this story was interesting, but unfortunately it was a small part of the story. The story seems to be a very long ramble through a year in the life of Oscar Wilde just so the author can name and quote drop as often as possible. Obviously when reading a fictional tale about a famous person's life, you want some easter eggs dropped in, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I got impatient with the story a few times and just wanted to get on with the actual plot The mystery part of this story was interesting, but unfortunately it was a small part of the story. The story seems to be a very long ramble through a year in the life of Oscar Wilde just so the author can name and quote drop as often as possible. Obviously when reading a fictional tale about a famous person's life, you want some easter eggs dropped in, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I got impatient with the story a few times and just wanted to get on with the actual plot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Toney

    I want so, so hard to love these mysteries. They have all sorts of things I love in them, and I find Gyles Brandreth to be so interesting, so charming! I'd love to have tea with him and talk about all manner of things- however I think I'd steer clear of his books, in that conversation. I just cannot get interested. The crimes are theatrical to the point of ridiculousness, the characters annoy me, and I find myself unable to really fall into the world. Oh well. I want so, so hard to love these mysteries. They have all sorts of things I love in them, and I find Gyles Brandreth to be so interesting, so charming! I'd love to have tea with him and talk about all manner of things- however I think I'd steer clear of his books, in that conversation. I just cannot get interested. The crimes are theatrical to the point of ridiculousness, the characters annoy me, and I find myself unable to really fall into the world. Oh well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I actually didn't finish this :( Seemed just my kind of thing - Oscar Wilde and sleuthing - what's not to like? Sadly it just took so long to get anywhere and the switch between characters by chapters didn't flow. Shame really. I actually didn't finish this :( Seemed just my kind of thing - Oscar Wilde and sleuthing - what's not to like? Sadly it just took so long to get anywhere and the switch between characters by chapters didn't flow. Shame really.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    I... think I am finished with this series for now. Not particularly bad... it's just... god, I don't know. Mediocre and I'm kinda over it. I... think I am finished with this series for now. Not particularly bad... it's just... god, I don't know. Mediocre and I'm kinda over it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine Parker

    I can appreciate that a lot of research was undertaken to write this novel but sorry I won't be reading any others in the series I can appreciate that a lot of research was undertaken to write this novel but sorry I won't be reading any others in the series

  26. 4 out of 5

    AP

    Weak. Lost interested less than 1/2way into book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chazzi

    Third book in this series and I'm still enjoying! This time Oscar Wilde is in America on a lecture tour in the 1880s. A rough and tumble time in the country. While at a stop in Leadville, Colorado, Oscar made the acquaintance of Eddie Garstrang. Garstrang was a professional gambler and marksman/sharpshooter. Garstrang also rescued Wilde from a bad situation in a casino. Sailing by back to England he meets up with the French impresario Edmond La Grange and his entourage. The entourage that includes Third book in this series and I'm still enjoying! This time Oscar Wilde is in America on a lecture tour in the 1880s. A rough and tumble time in the country. While at a stop in Leadville, Colorado, Oscar made the acquaintance of Eddie Garstrang. Garstrang was a professional gambler and marksman/sharpshooter. Garstrang also rescued Wilde from a bad situation in a casino. Sailing by back to England he meets up with the French impresario Edmond La Grange and his entourage. The entourage that includes; La Grange's mother, Lisolotte La Grange - an ancient stage star with illusions of her still beautiful and in charge, who is accompanied by her out of control, spoiled French Poodle - Marie Antoinette; Gabrielle de la Tourbillon - an actress and Edmond's mistress; Carlos Branco, Richard Marais, Pierre Ferrand, and Bernard La Grange and Agnès La Grange - Edmond's grown children. Wilde also found that Eddie Garstrang was also on board and part of the La Grange entourage. The strange happenings started when it was time to disembark from the ship in Liverpool. Somehow Marie Antoinette was found murdered and packed with dirt into Wilde's trunk. A trunk that Wilde had packed with his books, not a dead dog. Wilde had agreed to meet up with La Grange in Paris to work on a new staging of "Hamlet." Strange events continue to happen but the reactions to them are indifferent on the part of the others. This just fuels Wilde's curiosity even more and he finds himself digging to find out what is behind them. Misdirection and blind alleys are what he runs up against. Brandreth's writing brings alive the era and makes me feel that I am seeing it through my eyes. The twists and turns keep me thinking and trying to solve it on my own, yet enjoying the journey.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Amos

    I grew up watching Gyles Brandreth reading out the highlights of TV-AM’s Children’s Postbag in a never ending series of wacky jumpers. However, this stylish and entertaining novel is firm evidence that there so much more to Brandreth than eccentric knitwear. This novel is part of a series in which Oscar Wilde occupies the role of the detective and his unique, expressive voice permeates the narrative with all the pungency of a Turkish cigarette. There’s champagne, rich food and absinthe galore as I grew up watching Gyles Brandreth reading out the highlights of TV-AM’s Children’s Postbag in a never ending series of wacky jumpers. However, this stylish and entertaining novel is firm evidence that there so much more to Brandreth than eccentric knitwear. This novel is part of a series in which Oscar Wilde occupies the role of the detective and his unique, expressive voice permeates the narrative with all the pungency of a Turkish cigarette. There’s champagne, rich food and absinthe galore as Oscar Wilde mixes with actors and writers in Paris during the lustrous period known as La decadence. The reader gains an immense sense of place and Brandreth supplies a cast of exquisitely drawn characters that one can invest in emotionally, ensuring there’s a sense of jeopardy that draws the reader into the mystery. Even Oscar himself has a few close scraps. What’s really impressive about this novel is the scholarly level of research that went into it. In the post text notes, Brandreth reveals that some of the events in the novel, such as Wilde’s visit to Reading Gaol, actually happened on the date mentioned. This is a mystery that can surprise, horrify and amuse, making it a compelling read. It reminded me of Mark Gatiss’ Lucius Box novels with its lavish eye for detail and compelling fusion of murder and humour within a fast paced structure. In the novel, Oscar Wilde explains the outcome of the mystery to Arthur Conan Doyle and really, Wilde cuts a stylish dash as a bohemian Sherlock Holmes. I for one delighted in the game being afoot!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Barber

    I am joylessly working my way through Gyles Brandreth's Oscar Wilde murder mystery series. The primary virtue of the entire series (of which this book is the third installment) is the detailed research that Brandreth has done. It enables him to craft a story that fits into the timeline of the historical Oscar Wilde and to plausibly have his sleuth Oscar referring to or interacting with many celebrities of the day such as P.T. Barnum, James Russell Lowell, and Sarah Bernhardt. The plot involves th I am joylessly working my way through Gyles Brandreth's Oscar Wilde murder mystery series. The primary virtue of the entire series (of which this book is the third installment) is the detailed research that Brandreth has done. It enables him to craft a story that fits into the timeline of the historical Oscar Wilde and to plausibly have his sleuth Oscar referring to or interacting with many celebrities of the day such as P.T. Barnum, James Russell Lowell, and Sarah Bernhardt. The plot involves the theatrical company of actor-manager Edmond La Grange (fictional, I think, though there was an historical Edmond La Grange who acted with Moliere) mounting a French-language production of "Hamlet" in Paris in 1883. They are assisted by Oscar Wilde and his series Watson, the real-life minor poet Robert Sherard. There is also a framing story that involves a visit to Madame Tussaud's in 1890 and a flashback to Wilde's American tour of 1881 so that Arthur Conan Doyle can be involved. The mystery itself is pretty clunky and unbelievable. Aside from Oscar, who is a bundle of contradictions, the characters are one-dimensional with motivations that conveniently serve the plot but don't seem very realistic to me. However, enough genuine, adapted, and pseudo Oscar Wilde witticisms were sprinkled throughout the narrative that I kept reading to the end, so I am ready to move on to the fourth book of the series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ria

    When Arthur Conan Doyle is given a manuscript of Oscar's adventures in Paris we are taken back to 1883 where young Oscar Meets Robert Sherard for the first time and also the rather eccentric and sinister in a way La Grange family who are one of the principal and most famous stage and acting families of that time. When a dresser is found dead in a bed of an apparent gas leak Oscar and Robert swing into action but the body count is rising and the cast of suspects is starting to look like the playli When Arthur Conan Doyle is given a manuscript of Oscar's adventures in Paris we are taken back to 1883 where young Oscar Meets Robert Sherard for the first time and also the rather eccentric and sinister in a way La Grange family who are one of the principal and most famous stage and acting families of that time. When a dresser is found dead in a bed of an apparent gas leak Oscar and Robert swing into action but the body count is rising and the cast of suspects is starting to look like the playlist of Edmond La Grange's latest production! Exciting and fast paced and full period detail this is another great novel I'm the Oscar Wilde murder mystery series.

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