There will be nine books in the series Brandreth is planning to write about Wilde, and if they're all as enjoyable as his first, they'll all be surefire best-sellers.
Why? Because although he takes some liberties with Wilde - most obviously by turning him into an equally observant, if even more flamboyant, version of Sherlock Holmes - he doesn't take too many. The master's vintage Champagne wit still sparkles, even when mixed with the more modest Cava of Brandreth's own dialogue. That sumptuous solidity of late Victorian London is conjured up with fabulous effortlessness. The plot races along like a carriage pulled by thoroughbreds, with Oscar at the murder scene - a 16-year-old rentboy, his throat cut from ear to ear - within the space of three paragraphs.
Jeu d'esprit it may be, but the idea has substantial foundations in fact. Introducing Arthur Conan Doyle to the plot might seem far-fetched, but it is not: he and Wilde were friends, and met on several occasions. In Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, Wilde has his own version of the "Baker Street irregulars" - the street urchins who often provided the clues that helped Holmes crack his cases - in the network of rentboys, waiters and doormen whom Wilde tipped with legendary generosity. So far, so enjoyably plausible.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
The Oscar Wilde Murders
The Scotsman has an interview with Gyles Brandreth who has just had published, 'Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders'. The interview explains his connection to Oscar Wilde, how he came to write the book and the fact that he intends nine volumes: