By Gyles Brandreth
Touchstone, $14.00, 368 pages
Arthur Conan Doyle needs a respite from Sherlock Holmes and his fans, so off he heads to a spa in Germany in 1892. Oscar Wilde is also a guest, which means that Doyle isn’t going to get quite the rest he was hoping for. In fact, the thought of rest goes out the window when he opens one of his fan letters to find a finger with no note, just a return address: Rome.
“They say, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” Not in my case, let me confess.”
Off to Rome our intrepid heroes go and with the help of another clue, their first stop is the Vatican. The Eternal City has a few surprises up its sleeve for Wilde and Doyle, and even has a beautiful woman that turns Doyle’s head for a moment or two. At first, even the Pope himself is a suspect, along with every priest they meet. Slowly the mystery deepens to include a young girl that was a delight to all until the day Pope Pius IX died and she disappeared.
Fun, atmospheric, and witty, just like Wilde was, Brandreth’s trip to the Vatican with Wilde and Doyle will keep you turning pages and wishing you were there with them.
Reviewed by Gwen Stackler