Oscar Wilde and the Murders At Reading Gaol
May 14, 2013
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". . . a good old-fashioned mystery . . ."
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
Writer and poet Oscar Wilde lived a flamboyant, extravagant life, right up until he was sentenced to two years of hard labour in her majesty’s gaol for gross indecency, or what is now termed homosexuality. During this time, Wilde suffers on small portions of skilly, long days of picking oakum, and unbearable hours of staring into nothing but the inky blackness of his own cell without the mental stimulus which had intoxicated him in his previous life.
While Wilde’s time in gaol is the primary setting of the story, weaved through and beneath the hardship a mystery of two murders unfolds – both of which happen right outside Wilde’s cell. First the warder, a man who loathes Wilde, is thrown over the balustrade, and then the chaplain, who has been trying to save Oscar’s soul, is presumed beaten to death in the cell next door.
Unable to put motive to murder, the governor of Reading Gaol breaks the strict rule of silence by asking Wilde, famous for solving mysteries with his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to use his skills of deduction, which Wilde has feared lost, to solve the case. But, the dreadful clues reveal a truth that surprises not only the governor, but also Wilde himself.
In this sixth book in the Oscar Wilde series, writer Gyles Brandreth succeeds in creating a good old-fashioned mystery with the same clever story-telling skills that one would attribute to writers like Wilde and Doyle. Ironically, though the setting is cold and dark, and the main character is sad and lonely, Brandreth has a talent for making the reader close the back cover and say, “Well done, sir. Well done.”
Reviewer: Amy Warwick, Author/Blogger