TITLE: OSCAR WILDE AND THE DEAD MAN'S SMILE
AUTHOR: GYLES BRANDRETH
Details: no. 3 Oscar Wilde Mystery
The mystery in this book takes place before the stories in the two previous books and serves to describe the occassion on which Robert Sherard first met and befriended Oscar Wilde.
Most of the action takes place in Paris, France, but the story also takes us to America and England.
The stage is set in America where Oscar Wilde meets Eddie Garstrang, a professional gambler and Edmond La Grange, a famous French actor-manager.
Wilde, Garstrang and La Grange are among the passengers on board a ship bringing them from the US to Europe, when the first suspicious death occurs, although it appears a triviality at the time.
It is not until Wilde is in Paris to work with La Grange and has met and befriended Robert Sherard that the intrigue, murder and mystery really kick off.
Many real historical figures and places once again either figure in the story or are mentioned in it, such as Sarah Bernhardt, Arthur Conan Doyle, Louisa May Alcott and Reading jail.
For a long time while reading this book I thought that a lot of the story had little or nothing to do with the mystery, but was merely there to provide a partial biography of Oscar Wilde.
I was wrong. Just when I thought the mystery had been solved and the story was as good as over, the last chapter gave a remarkable, but not improbable, twist. A twist that made the story more interesting, the solution to the mystery more satisfying and managed to pull all the apparently unconnected story-lines together.
As always, it was a joy to read about Oscar Wilde, a truly fascinating figure, as written by a man who is obviously very knowledgable about his subject.