Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol
Review: Oscar Wilde — writer, lecturer, dramatist, and poet — has been found guilty at the Old Bailey in London of seven counts of gross indecency and sentenced to two years of hard labor in Wandsworth Prison. Life in prison is difficult for Wilde, but even in his darkest hours he is able to produce a witty saying at the drop of pin, if only to the doctor or one of the wardens, the only men to whom he is permitted to speak. And it is to Wilde that they come when a series of puzzling murders occurs within the prison walls, in Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol, the sixth mystery in this series by Gyles Brandreth.
Wilde is known only by a number: C.3.3 — the C-section of the prison, third level, third cell from the door. His uniform, like those of every other prisoner, consists of a jacket and trousers made of a course material rough to the skin, and decorated from ankle to collar with a pattern of broad black arrows, with cap that hangs down like a mask or a veil, disguising one's features. After one of the more cruel wardens is thrown over the railing just outside his cell, a prisoner confesses immediately while another also claims responsibility. Wilde doesn't believe either man is guilty. With an eye for detail and the experience gleaned from working with his friend Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilde is permitted to assist the prison officials in getting to the bottom of this mystery.
Unlike many of the previous books in this series, the murder mystery here is largely a subplot to the primary storyline, that being Oscar Wilde's description of life behind bars. The characters, the setting, and the despairing mood experienced by Wilde are realistically described in vivid terms. It is simultaneously a riveting and revolting atmosphere in which to solve a series of crimes. There is a bit of humor here and there, and the irony of a convicted criminal helping the authorities solve a crime is not lost, but mostly this is a dark tale. It is a strong entry in the series, but also a very different one.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided an ARC of Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders
Touchstone (Hardcover), May 2012
ISBN-13: 9781439153741; ISBN-10: 1439153744
Location(s) referenced in Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol: London, England
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Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth — An Oscar Wilde Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2013
List Price: $16.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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