OSCAR WILDE AND THE DEAD MAN’S SMILE by Gyles Brandreth

OSCAR WILDE AND THE DEAD MAN’S SMILE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The inimitable Oscar triumphantly tours America and Europe, meeting a pantheon of stars and solving a murder.

Confidant and biographer Robert Sherard, again playing the Dr. Watson role (Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder, 2008, etc.), begins with an 1890 Christmas Eve visit to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in London, as Wilde presents to friend and admirer (and rival) Arthur Conan Doyle a manuscript documenting a singular adventure. Flashback to Wilde’s successful tour of America a decade earlier, a cross-country jaunt through the heartland ending in New York. Wilde is delighted to make the acquaintance of childhood idol Edmond La Grange, esteemed actor-manager and patriarch of his own acting dynasty. When Wilde and the La Granges return to England together aboard the SS Bothnia, the most foreboding event of the voyage is the death of Marie Antoinette, pet poodle of La Grange’s elderly mother. From that point the plot rattles amiably forward through London and Paris, from Sherard’s first meeting with Wilde in 1883 to the appearance of divine diva Sarah Bernhardt, a frequent La Grange costar. At length, there’s the requisite murder, of La Grange’s dresser Washington Traquair. The locked-room mystery provokes Wilde once more to dangerous investigations and deepens his friendship with Robert, who replaces Traquair as La Grange’s dresser. Fatalities even closer to La Grange lend urgency to Wilde’s efforts.

Episodic and irrepressibly droll, Wilde’s third case benefits from a full-bodied cast of supporting characters and a looser narrative flow.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-3485-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2009




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