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Sherlock Holmes and the Mysterious Friend of Oscar Wilde
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This slight first novel serves as stage for a pastiche of Wilde witticisms, innuendoes about the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and glimpses into a whispered aspect of late-Victorian society. Oscar Wilde contacts Holmes about helping a wealthy, anonymous friend escape the clutches of a blackmailer. Holmes at first refuses, but eventually overcomes his dislike of Wilde and enters the fray, so to speak. Not much story, actually, and Wilde's paradoxical epigrams get in the way at times; however, the undeniable humor and period outlook may appeal to fans of Holmes or Wilde. REK

In a foreword about the purported discovery of an 1895 manuscript, Brown asks why anyone would paste together other authors' words. Readers will wonder the same about this implausible whodunit, subtitled ``A Mystery Based on Writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde.'' Strung together with quotes from those eminent Victorians, the story begins with Sherlock Holmes's initial refusal and then agreement to Oscar Wilde's request that Holmes save a ``noble'' Swedish inventor from a vicious blackmailer. As Dr. Watson relates subsequent events, London is the target of dynamiters; Holmes is marked for death by the vengeful Marquess of Queensberry; and Watson needs rescue from a pederast hangout where he is lured by a small boy. The tale's gimmicky artifice is most apparent in the author's references to Watson as leaning ``so''meaning homosexual (the word that dare not speak its name?)and in his attempt to re-create Holmes's housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, as a militant feminist. (Dec.)

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