Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders opens in 1890, at a glamorous party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Albemarle. All of London’s high society—including the Prince of Wales—are in attendance at what promises to be the event of the season. Yet Oscar Wilde is more interested in another party guest, Rex LaSalle, a young actor who claims to be a vampire.
But the entertaining evening ends in tragedy when the duchess is found murdered—with two tiny puncture marks on her throat. Desperate to avoid scandal and panic, the Prince asks Oscar and his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate the crime. What they discover threatens to destroy the very heart of the royal family. Told through diary entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, and letters, Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders is a richly atmospheric mystery that is sure to captivate and entertain.
Brandreth stumbles in his subpar fourth mystery featuring Oscar Wilde as sleuth (after 2009's Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile). On the evening of March 13, 1890, Wilde attends a party along with the cream of English society, including the prince of Wales. The following day, the press reports that the hostess, the duchess of Albemarle, succumbed to a heart attack in her bed, but the true story is much different. The duchess's half-nude corpse was actually found in the telephone room, with numerous cuts and two fang-like punctures in her neck that could have reached her jugular. The prince of Wales taps Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate. Doyle, journalist Robert Sherard, theater manager Bram Stoker, and artist Rex LaSalle, who claims to be a vampire, take turns narrating the disjointed story, which leads to an unsatisfying conclusion. One hopes Brandreth will return to form in the next installment.