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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 28 June 2015

"Oscar Wilde and the murders at Reading gaol" by Giles Brandreth

Following his release from prison, Oscar Wilde is in exile in France when a Dr Quilp prompts him to tell the story of a series of murders that took place while Oscar was inside. Oscar had solved these, using the techniques of his good friend Conan Doyle. Thus the stage is set for an interesting murder mystery with the background of the utter dejection and appalling treatment meted out to prisoners in Victorian gaols under the notorious 'separate' system.

The whodunnit element is a little flawed because the murder weapon of choice requires specialist knowledge not offered to the reader, more in the tradition of Holmes than Poirot. But there is a clever twist at the end.

The tone of the book is classically Wildean, veering from clever epigrams to self-absorbed emotional grand opera. There are insertions from Wilde's prison literature, both De Profundis and the Ballad of Reading Gaol. These insertions were also in the Wilde tradition: they lack subtlety and one can feel the self congratulation 'look what a clever boy am I' of the author.

To echo the quote on the front of the book from Alexander McCall Smith: this book is "intelligent, amusing and entertaining'. I read it in two days. It left me eager to reread the ballad and De Profundis.

June 2015; 302 pages

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