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Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders    by Gyles Brandreth order for
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders
by Gyles Brandreth
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

What an absolutely delightful book: Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandreth. Apparently, in real life, Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were good friends. A fact I didn't know. A fictional story involving the two of them is told by Doyle and, as it unfolded, I became more and more entranced by the two men's personalities.

Wilde, the more flamboyant of the two, urges Doyle to travel to the Vatican to discover who might have sent, in care of Doyle, a human hand, a finger and a lock of lamb's wool to Sherlock Holmes!

Mysterious? Of course. But we soon discover that Wilde is not only a poet and playwright, but also a natural born detective. He leads Doyle a merry chase as they prowl the Vatican and discover clues. Some of those who people the pages are active in serving the Pope. Although, we never meet the eminent man in this book, we learn some of the workings of the Vatican and also of those who are buried there.

Wilde is voluble and loves to entrance his nearby audiences with his own works, endearing himself to the women especially. Addicted to cigarettes, good wine and gourmet food, he takes center stage no matter what. Sir Arthur is more circumspect and does not seek the limelight. Happily married, he remains true to his vows, while Wilde is more freewheeling.

I found the mystery intriguing as it slowly unravels. The background setting of Rome reminded me of the little time I spent there. The friendship between the two men seems unlikely, their being such opposites. But they seem to accept each other at face value and continue a close relationship. Six men closest to the Pope come under suspicion.

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is the fifth in the Victorian murder series, all of them highly acclaimed and well worth a read.

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