The latest in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed series of Victorian murder mysteries featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. Paris, 1883. Oscar Wilde, aged twenty-seven, has come to the city of decadence to discover its charms, to rekindle his friendship with the divine Sarah Bernhardt and to collaborate with France's most celebrated actor-manager, Edmond La Grange. Oscar discovers dark secrets lying at the heart of the La Grange company, and is confronted by murders both foul and bizarre. To solve the crimes, to unravel the mystery, Oscar risks his life -- and his reputation -- embarking on a dangerous adventure that takes him from bohemian night clubs to an asylum for the insane, from a duel in the Buttes de Chaumont to the gates of Reading Gaol.
Oscar Wilde once again makes a convincing detective in Brandreth's excellent third whodunit to recreate the late Victorian age (after 2008's Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder). Framed as a puzzle posed by Wilde to his friend Arthur Conan Doyle in 1890, this adventure concerns a series of mysterious deaths plaguing a French acting troupe, the Compagnie La Grange, which Wilde encounters aboard ship in 1883. The first death is of a poodle, Marie Antoinette, whose body a customs officer in Liverpool unearths in a dirt-filled trunk that Wilde believed to be full of books he was bringing home from America. Human victims follow, forcing Wilde and his Watson, real-life journalist and Wilde biographer Robert Sherard, to untangle the complicated nest of emotions at play among the members of the Compagnie La Grange. John Dickson Carr fans will be gratified to find echoes of his style in several places, including the use of false endings.