From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In British author Brandreth's impressive second Oscar Wilde mystery (after 2007's Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance), the aesthete and playwright proves himself a brilliant and insightful sleuth. At a May 1892 meeting of the Socrates Club, a group founded by Wilde and including such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, the members play murder, a game that involves writing the name of a victim on a piece of paper and trying to guess who chose whom and why. The amusement sours in the face of certain selections in poor taste, like Mrs. Oscar Wilde. Real murders follow, starting with the horrific death by fire of the ex-fiancée of one of the participants, a disgraced minister. As in Nicholas Meyer's second Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The West End Horror, such real-life figures as Doyle or Stoker can be easily eliminated as the killer, but there are enough other suspects to keep the reader guessing at the solution of this intricate whodunit. (Sept.)
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Wilde expert, BBC broadcaster, and former MP Brandreth continues his mystery series starring the world’s most epigrammatic detective in this, the second installment, after last year’s well-received Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance. Wilde, a keen observer of human nature, seems ideally (if surprisingly) suited to the role of sleuth. Brandreth heightens the effect by having one of Wilde’s friends, Arthur Conan Doyle, play the role of dumbfounded Watson to Wilde’s brilliant Sherlock. Sharing the Watson role is narrator-poet Robert Sherard, who writes of Wilde’s exploits. The current case is set in motion by Wilde himself. Presiding over the Socrates Club, Wilde suggests that every member write down the names of people they would murder if they could get away with it. The first mention, a woman recently jilted at the altar, is burned to death the next day. Terrific period atmosphere, crisp writing style, and the flamboyant Wilde make this series pitch-perfect. Great entertainment. --Connie Fletcher
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