Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (Oscar Wilde Mysteries 1) - GYLES BRANDRETH
Picked this one up in a swap, mostly because it was the first in a series, though I have to say the garishness of the cover also attracted me!

From the title, you can probably guess the identity of our protagonist, although the book itself is written from the perspective not of Oscar but of his friend (and later biographer) Robert Sherrard. The basic premise is that Oscar Wilde stumbles across the murdered body of a teenage lad of his acquaintance, killed in what appears to be a ritualistic manner, but then the police seem oddly reticent to investigate the matter properly.

Arthur Conan Doyle, just then writing The Sign of Four, makes a couple of appearances and Wilde takes encouragement from his writings about Sherlock Holmes to launch an investigation of his own. It's pretty clear that from his choice of point of view, the author is looking to try and cast Sherrard and Wilde into the roles of Watson and Holmes respectively, but that seems to be a mistake - Sherrard just doesn't have the humanity of Dr Watson and spends much of his time trying to figure out how to seduce various women.

Another odd factor, which makes Sherrard an even more unreliable narrator and makes me wonder at the views of the author on this subject, is that even looking back on all of this with the benefit of hindsight, there seems to be a concerted effort to deny anything but the most ardent heterosexual interpretations of Wilde. Much effort is put into a depiction of his marriage and happy family home, while any interest in his own gender is brushed away as an aesthetic appreciation and nothing more. For all these reasons, while the next book in the series is [b:Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death|3084081|Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries, #2)|Gyles Brandreth|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510omEMMypL._SL75_.jpg|6560661], this series and I will be parting company here...