In this new installment in the engaging mystery series Booklist called “pitch-perfect” and “enthralling”—currently in development as a BBC television series—the incomparable playwright, novelist, raconteur, and now ex-convict Oscar Wilde faces his most fiendishly puzzling case yet.
Oscar Wilde has fled to France after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. Oscar has endured the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, his astonishing detective powers remain undiminished—and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol’s most celebrated inmate?
After two subpar outings (most recently 2012 s Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders), Brandreth returns to form with his outstanding sixth Victorian whodunit, making the most of a difficult but intriguing premise. What if Oscar Wilde, while held between 1895 and 1897 in Reading Gaol, used his superior intellect to try to solve multiple murders at the prison? Earlier, at Wandsworth in London, an especially cruel warder dropped dead of uncertain causes in Wilde s cell just before the disgraced playwright and wit was to be transferred. To Wilde s shock, another warder dies at his new prison, the first of several mysterious deaths there. Brandreth smoothly integrates details of Wilde s tormented existence behind bars and the sadism of the British penal system at the time into a complex mystery plot that only the most attentive reader will resolve correctly in advance of the denouement.