Thursday, November 27, 2008

Finished: "Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance" by Gyles Brandreth

Finished: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth, 2007, 9781416551744.

Okay. This could have been much better if cut back by about 100 pages. It went on too long and meandered a bit.

Oscar Wilde discovers the body of a male prostitute in a trysting house's room where Oscar was scheduled to tutor his god-daughter. The body disappears and the room is spotlessly cleaned when Oscar and his friends Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Sherard come along to see if he is telling the truth. Sherard narrates the tale which covers about five months and introduces the reader to a very odd homo underground in London.

I think Wilde enthusiast Brandreth got carried away with Wilde information. Brandreth is a biographer so I suppose that is understandable. Wilde was a complicated dude and Brandreth's opinion on Wilde's conviction for perversion is unclear from the novel. But, I gather it is just as likely that Wilde was innocent of the charge and not sexually interested in dudes. No matter. The book went on too long.

The mystery aspect was very well done. The killer and accomplice was a true surprise to me and Brandreth tied it all together very well.

The Acknowledgements have a neat story about how Brandreth's headmaster used to be a friend of Wilde and one of Wilde's kids was in his school during Wilde's trial. During games of Scrabble the Headmaster spoke "with vivid accounts of Oscar Wilde's manner and conversational style - including Wilde's habit of trying out on his family and friends lines that would alter resurface in his stories and plays.

There are some author questions I have not yet read.

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