Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder
Review: Playwright Oscar Wilde again takes on the role of amateur sleuth in Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Gyles Brandreth. This time he may be investigating the unintended consequences of an innocuous game of his own devising.
Oscar Wilde's Socrates Club meets every month at the Cadogen Hotel. Its members include some of the most celebrated men of the time: Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, (narrator) Robert Sherard, Walter Sickert, and Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. On this particular first of May, 1892, Wilde asks that each member bring a guest to dinner. As part of the entertainment, he has come up with a game called "Murder". Each member and guest is given pen and paper and asked to write the name of someone they would like to kill, if, indeed, they could get away with the crime. Several people protest that the game is preposterous, but in the end, all write down a name. The pieces of paper with the names are put into a bag and pulled out, one by one, and announced to the audience. Little did anyone know, especially Wilde, that this simple game would soon become a reality.
The very next day the burned body of Miss Elizabeth Scott-Rivers is found in her home. It so happens it was her name that was first drawn the previous night. Though the authorities rule her death an accident, Wilde is suspicious. When other people whose names were drawn begin disappearing or found dead, Wilde begins an investigation into the secrets that the game participants may be hiding, one of whom is undoubtedly a killer. And he has an incentive: his name was the 13th drawn.
Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder is a witty, colorful mystery that is a joy to read. Brandreth has cleverly blended real and fictional people into real and fictional situations with the result being an engaging mystery. Wilde's nonstop witticisms (which, by the way, fellow club member Bosie takes full credit for the best ones) are a particular delight. Of course Wilde feels responsible for some of Doyle's ideas later incorporated into Sherlock Holmes stories. Though historical records have provided somewhat matter-of-fact depictions of the real people mentioned in this book (with the possible exception of Oscar Wilde himself), it's a real pleasure to view them in a different context.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder.
Acknowledgment: Touchstone provided a copy of Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile
Touchstone (Hardcover), September 2009
ISBN-13: 9781439137284; ISBN-10: 1439137285
Location(s) referenced in Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder: England
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Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Gyles Brandreth — An Oscar Wilde Mystery
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $24.00