Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2008, 12:00am
 

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders

by Giles Brandreth

John Murray Harper, HK$132

Giles Brandreth is an English broadcaster best known for his plummy accent, dire taste in knitwear and slappable, smug demeanour. And just when you thought he couldn't be any worse, he goes and becomes a Conservative Member of Parliament. To be fair, Brandreth is also a witty, intelligent author and raconteur and his talents have found a perfect outlet in this witty and intelligent murder mystery. Written unapologetically in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who has a starring role), it is set in a fin de siecle demi-monde encompassing Paris, London, Edinburgh and Oxford. Apart from a fashion for French, crime is very much a la mode too: when a 16-year-old boy is found murdered in Westminster it triggers a further series of brutal killings. The death also attracts the interest of Oscar Wilde in his underappreciated role of private eye. The idea works far better than it has any right to. Helped out by Conan Doyle, Wilde doesn't so much solve this well-plotted caper as charm it into submission. A follow-up is due in May and promises to be delightful.

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