28 May 2013

OSCAR WILDE AND THE CANDLELIGHT MURDERS.

OSCAR WILDE AND THE CANDLELIGHT MURDERS (OR Oscar Wilde And A Death Of No Importance as it is known in the US) by GYLES BRANDRETH

August, 1889. Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, wit and raconteur, chances on the mutilated corpse of a sixteen-year-old boy in a candlelit room in one of the back streets of Westminster. In fin-de-siecle London and Paris, with the help of fellow author Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilde sets out to unravel the mystery of Billy Wood ..... and the bizarre deaths that follow in its wake.
..... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: 31 August 1889): On an afternoon ablaze with sunshine, at the very end of August 1889, a man in his mid-thirties - tall, a little overweight and certainly overdressed - was admitted to a small house in Cowley Street, in the city of Westminster, close by the Houses of Parliament.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 296): ..... was an elderly gentleman who appeared to have wandered into the room from the pages of a book of eccentric fairytales. He wad Dore's painting of Rumplestiltskin with Tenniel's drawing of the White Knight in Through The Looking-Glass.

MY THOUGHTS: In many ways but not all (I certainly worked out whodunit three quarters of the way through) a ripping yarn of a murder mystery with a romantic sub-plot.

Extremely witty and full of delightfully quirky characters (but then I wouldn't have expected anything less from its author who, a writer, broadcaster and former Member of Parliament, is one of Britain's most sought after after-dinner speakers ) Oscar Wilde And the Candlelight Murders (the first in what I believe to be a series of six books) is so meticulously researched that at times it reads almost like a biography - the relationship between Wilde and his wife, Constance, I thought particularly illuminating, the period details vivid, the nods to the literature, to the culture, of the time very clever and the ideas surrounding homosexuality before there even was such a word (at one point in the story the term 'musical' is used) fascinating.

Not a book that will to be to everyone's taste of that I'm certain, even now I'm not totally convinced that instead of starring a fictionalised Oscar Wilde the novel wouldn't have been just as good a read with a Wilde-type character who possessed a similar amount of wit and charisma.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Enjoyable to read once though alas not one for the shelves.



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16 comments:

Jean said...

I always feel a little ripped off by writers who "steal" characters for their books. I'm no expert on Oscar Wilde but I'm willing to bet that you are correct that the book would have been as good with an unknown name for the protagonist. But then, maybe using the name will grab the attention of someone looking to buy an interesting read - after all - the cover alone gives much insight into the kind of character found inside.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I think they sound like fun reads!

Brandi Kosiner said...

I read some of these in school, and didn't like it because it was req

Brian Joseph said...

I do think that a murder series with Oscar Wilde as the protagonist can work. However a lot of thought would need to go into the character.

Of course having not read enough of Wilde's works themselves. I think that I would want to do that first.

Kelly said...

I've read a fiction account based on an actual event involving Arthur Conan Doyle as investigator, so this piqued my curiosity. Your review is interesting, so I'd consider reading it at some point.

Arti said...

I love reading Oscar Wilde's quotes. I think I will love this book, will look out for this soon. A fascinating review as always Tracy, have a lovely week :)

Mama Zen said...

This one sounds fun!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Jean and yourself, more or less echo my own thoughts exactly and I have voiced them very vociferously on more than one occasion.

I hate it when an author makes money off the back of a fellow authors characters, especially when the original author and characters are already given 'classic' status and are generally deceased, making it impossible for any complaint to be upheld.

I am not that keen on Gyles Brandreth the person and have never read any of his books, so this is certainly not one for my reading list, even if he had used an authentic character of his own.

Thanks for sharing though and for listening to my rant.

Yvonne

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... sounds interesting enough to read. I might have to library book this one.

Suko said...

Wonderful reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed these clever-sounding books.

Naida said...

Murder mystery with a romantic sub-plot sounds good to me.

Blond Duck said...

It sounds worthy of a read just for the language!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Glad you enjoyed it overall. I really love these books; well, the first two but I'm planning to read more!

Gina R said...

Hmm...I'm thinking "no" to the wish list but "yes" to the covers. I like the unusual image and bright spectrum used...

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I have never heard of this series, but I do enjoy mysteries.
Thanks for sharing!

Betty Manousos said...

this one sounds like a fun read.
thanks for your marvellous review!

xx