Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders
Trade Paperback/368 pages
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". . . a hypnotic mystery . . ."
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is simply an absolute gem. Biographer, BBC broadcaster and British author Gyles Brandreth brilliantly wraps an inventive mystery around true characters and historical events.
Brandreth seizes Oscar Wilde’s noted wit and flamboyancy coupled with Sherlock Holmes’ creator Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle who as the narrator draws us into a dazzling riddle situated in 1880s Europe.
Wilde, seeking a healthy environment, heads to a German spa, when his friend Doyle, heeding his editors demand that he respond to a year’s worth of mail sent to Holmes, arrives on the scene. Wilde, colorfully dressed in linens with his morning bottle of champagne, cheerfully offers to assist.
The reunited companions first are mortified when a mummified hand falls out of an envelope with a Rome address. Frantically, they search for more letters from the same address and discover two more — one contains a human finger with a distinctive ring, and another offers a lock of hair or wool. Wilde insists they immediately travel to Rome. Why? “Because it’ll do us good! It’ll be an adventure–and that is the only ‘cure’ we need.”
Their Roman adventure leads to the depths of the Vatican where they enjoy English tea with the chaplains-in-residence to His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, and walk through the Sistine Chapel with the sacristan. Wilde’s sharpened observations of the various Vatican characters, coupled with his love of books, in particular writings by Keats and Mark Twain, unravels the mystery laced with sex, greed and jealousies around the disappearance of the child Agnes, a Vatican laundry worker most loved by Pope Pius IX. Agnes vanishes hours after the Pope is declared dead.
It is a hypnotic mystery likely to propel any reader to seek out four other Oscar Wilde mysteries cleverly devised by Brandreth.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla