Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders

Written by Gyles Brandreth
Review by Heather Domin

Wait! It’s not what you think. The latest installment in Gyles Brandreth’s popular Oscar Wilde series is no trendy monster mash – this story is a mystery of the very earthly kind. At a party for the elite of London society, a beautiful young duchess is found dead in a most un-Victorian manner: half nude, abused, with two puncture wounds in her throat. To prevent scandal the Prince of Wales asks Oscar Wilde to put his considerable wit to the task of deducing what (or who) killed the lady; Oscar, however, is distracted by his new friend, a young actor who claims to be a vampire. Accompanied by famous faces including Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, Oscar begins an investigation that soon delves into the dark underbelly of Victorian society: night clubs, opium dens, lunatic asylums, and graveyards where men claim to know creatures of the night. And he remains fabulous while doing so.

Mystery is not my usual genre, but the action in this novel is so crisp, the plot so tight, dialogue so witty, and world-building so natural, that I couldn’t put it down. You can smell the cigars and brandy on every page, hear the rustle of starched shirtfronts and the jingle of carriage livery. One minute the boys are having oysters and champagne at a gentleman’s club; the next they’re examining corpses and discussing the habits of the Undead. The writing is as charming and charismatic as Oscar himself, and the pages turn of their own accord. You might need to make a flowchart to keep track of the myriad characters, but it’s well worth the effort. Recommended for fans of murder mysteries, Victorian fiction, and excellent entertainment.