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Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (Oscar Wilde Mysteries 1) [Hardcover]

Gyles Brandreth
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 May 2007 Oscar Wilde Mysteries 1

In OSCAR WILDE AND THE CANDLELIGHT MURDERS, the first in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, the brutal murder of a young rent-boy puts Oscar in grave danger... 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith

London, 1889. Oscar Wilde, celebrated poet, wit, playwright and raconteur is the literary sensation of his age. All Europe lies at his feet. Yet when he chances across the naked corpse of sixteen-year-old Billy Wood, posed by candlelight in a dark, stifling attic room, he cannot ignore the brutal murder. With the help of fellow author Arthur Conan Doyle he sets out to solve the crime - but it is Wilde's unparalleled access to all degrees of late Victorian life, from society drawing rooms and the bohemian demi-monde to the underclass, that will prove the decisive factor in their investigation of what turns out to be a series of brutal killings.

The Oscar Wilde Murders is a gripping detective story of corruption and intrigue, of Wilde's growing success, of the breakdown of his marriage, and of his fatal friendship with Aidan Fraser, Inspector at Scotland Yard... Set against the exotic background of fin-de-siecle London, Paris, Oxford and Edinburgh, Gyles Brandreth recreates Oscar Wilde's trademark sardonic wit with huge flair, intertwining all the intrigue of the classic English murder mystery with a compelling portrait of one of the greatest characters of the Victorian age.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719569206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719569203
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

One of the most intelligent, amusing and entertaining books of the year. If Oscar Wilde himself had been asked to write this book he could not have done it any better. (Alexander McCall Smith)

Genius ...Wilde has sprung back to life in this thrilling and richly atmospheric new novel . . . The perfect topography for crime and mystery . . . magnificent . . . an unforgettable shocker about sex and vice, love and death (Sunday Express)

'Brandreth has poured his considerable familiarity with London into a witty fin de siecle entertainment, and the rattlingly elegant dialogue is peppered with witticisms uttered by Wilde well before he ever thought of putting them into his plays' (Sunday Times)

Classically twisty (Observer)

Gyles Brandreth and Oscar Wilde seem made for one another . . . the complex and nicely structured plot zips along. (Daily Telegraph)

An amiably enjoyable Victorian murder mystery (Sunday Times)

This is to be a series and if they're all as enjoyable as the first, they'll all be surefire best-sellers . . . The plot races along like a carriage pulled by thoroughbreds . . . So enjoyably plausible (The Scotsman)

This bounces along with vim and wit. Beautifully packaged (Bookseller)

Both a romp through fin-de-siècle London . . . and a carefully researched portrait of Oscar Wilde . . . Very entertaining (Literary Review)

Brandreth has the Wildean lingo down pat and the narrative is dusted with piquant social observations. A sparkling treat for fans of Wilde and Sherlock Holmes alike (Easy Living)

Wilde as detective is thoroughly convincing. ...The period, and the two or three worlds in which Wilde himself moved, are richly evoked . . . Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders is an excellent detective story. I'm keenly looking forward to the rest of the series (The District Messenger, Journal of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London)

Brandreth knows his Wilde . . . Candlelight Murders is an excellent read, and it seems the scene may be set for others in the same style -- and with the same lead character (Gay Times)

This is not only a good piece of detective fiction in its own right, it is highly entertaining, spiced as it is with Wildean sayings, both real and invented and the imagined conversations and intellectual sparring between Wilde and Conan Doyle. Future tales in the series are something to look forward to (Leicester Mercury)

Brandreth's accomplishment is evident in the force of Wilde's personality, which fairly leaps off the page . . . readers will delight in the effortless characterization and deft portrait of late Victorian England. (Stephanie Barron)

I always wanted to meet Oscar Wilde and now I feel that I have done, and shared a terrific, bizarre and frightening adventure with him. I recommend the experience. (Anne Perry)

This excellent novel . . . I'd be staggered if, by the end of 2007, you'd read many better whodunnits. Brandreth demonstrates supremely measured skill as a story-teller. (Nottingham Evening Post)

'The rollocking tale...a witty and gripping portrayal of corruption in late Victorian London,a nd one of which Wilde and Sir Arthur would be proud' (Livewire)

PRAISE FOR GYLES BRANDRETH

'Not merely, like all the best after-dinner speakers, does he know how to spin a yarn; unlike most politicians, he has a touching access to the secrets of the human heart'

(The Times)

'A fine and sympathetic writer' (The Times Literary Supplement)

'He can tell a story in the way Daphne du Maurier could . . . He creates a world and keeps you there' (Sunday Express)

Book Description

In OSCAR WILDE AND THE CANDLELIGHT MURDERS, the first in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, the brutal murder of a young rent-boy puts Oscar in grave danger... 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Sarah Durston TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Brandreth's research leads him to the discovery that Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle had been friends. That discovery has lead to a really engaging novel where Oscar Wilde is, in effect, playing Sherlock Holmes.

Wilde has a mysterious appointment to keep at a house in London's Cowley Street. It is there that he discovers the body of a beautiful sixteen year old boy, surrounded by candles, with his throat cut. To make the situation even more complicated, as Wilde knew the young man and the 'lunch club' which he used to frequent.

Scotland Yard are reluctant to investigate, despite a word from Conan Doyle, so Wilde (and his faithful sidekick Robert Sherard) decides to investigate for themselves. Their investigations mean they cross paths with some very colourful characters.

I loved this book. Not only is it a great murder mystery, it also portrays vividly the characters of Wilde and Conan Doyle and also attempts to illuminate the nature of Wilde's marriage to Constance.

Fictional murder stories involving investigations by real historical figures appear to be in vogue at the moment, but this is one of the better ones.

Recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading 3 April 2008
By Mr G
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this novel immensely. Brandreth is a superb writer with a nice line in understated humour and a keen ability to evoke a period. The story is intriguing and the characters very well-drawn, with Wilde himself emerging as fun, fascinating and humane. It's a terrific read and I hope the author will produce a whole series. Book 2 is out in May 2008.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar Wilde makes a brilliant Sherlock Holmes 2 Dec 2007
By SJSmith TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is fabulous. Starting with the front cover - it's vibrant mix of colours and patterns represents the characters excellently. It was actually the cover that caught my eye rather than hearing about the book. I think this has done Gyles Brandreth a favour as most people won't know this side of him; instead they'll know him for his more dryer material!

The plot is quirky and sucks you straight in. Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde are friends (this is confirmed in the notes at the back of the book), Doyle is in the middle of having one or two books published and Wilde enjoys the character of Sherlock Holmes. Thrown into the mix is the great-grandson of Wordsworth, Robert Sherard. Documented information is filtered throughout the novel and it is narrated by Robert.

It is written in the tradition (from the blurb) of Dorothy Sayers (whom I am not familiar with) and Arthur Conan Doyle. An easy read which will have you looking for clues as the novel progresses. Enjoyable characters and superbly written prose - I can't wait for the next one!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and engaging 13 May 2007
Format:Hardcover
I love a good crime novel with a historical setting so this sort of thing is right up my street.

As far as I can tell it has been meticulously researched and I found London and Wilde to have been beautifully evoked. Obviously with Oscar Wilde as your lead character it is hard to avoid peppering the book with bon mots and aphorisms. For me that simply served to bring the character of Wilde to life. I was also fascinated by all the little details of Wilde's life and by the take that the narrator has on the great scandal that is to come - heavily foreshadowed in the book.

Can Brandreth be blamed for taking advantage of the wealth of Wilde's Wit? I don't think so - in fact the prospect of getting a little Wildean wit in the world of Sherlock Holmes was what drew me to the book in the first place. That's what I wanted, that's what I got and I hugely enjoyed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining 22 Nov 2010
By Big Jim TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The first of Gyles Brandreth's witty and enjoyable series is one of many such detective/mystery books set in the late Victorian period. I think it works remarkably well. The author has obviously put a great deal of research into the period, loves Oscar Wilde and the conceit isn't at all laboured as the investigation winds along in a logical and unhurried style. I do think that Mr Brandreth tries too hard to fit as many of Wilde's well known bon mots and witticisms in, and the mystery itself is a bit humdrum to be honest but those slight criticisms aside this is an enjoyable start to a series and I'll definitely be seeking out the second and subsequent volumes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delight 21 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
It was through Brandreth's diaries that I became drawn to his fiction, and I was delighted by this book. It mixes facts with its fiction in a wonderfully deft and playful fashion, and creates a believeable little world of its own. I won't give away any more of the story that's already been noted, but this moves along at a pleasing pace and is full of wit and clever twists. Excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "If you like Lucifer Box...." 15 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
..then you may well enjoy this. Casting Oscar Wilde in the role of detective, specifically as Sherlock Holmes, gives us a detective of an unconventional sexuality for the time and for detective fiction generally. Apologies to the author if I have misinterpreted this, but I feel Brandreth is suggesting that Oscar Wilde was bisexual rather than gay, albeit with greater leanings toward his own sex. Written in the 1st person of Wilde's friend Robert Sherrard and as the charatcter would have seen it, Sherrard is unaware of Wilde's sexuality as the mystery takes place and reluctant to face it when he is looking back. A benefit of Sherrard's retrospective narration is the format allows for dropping in some historical titbits e.g the paid witnesses ranged against Wilde in his trial. The downside to this approach is the book is almost in denial about who Oscar Wilde was; a homosexual or at least if bisexual the great passion of his life was for "Bosie". By all means make the point that Wilde cared deeply for wife Constance and was not just using her but to shy from acknowledging who he was downgrades his struggle & the great speech made by Wilde when facing public disgrace and the prospect of hard labour.Even retrospectively there is little made of the burden of his double life.
The context of the book is prior to his trial and being "outed" for want of a better world, Oscar Wilde (writing Dorian Gray during the book's timeline)is a man enjoying success, friends, beauty in anyone male or female and a clubbing lifestyle. He is quick witted, mentally restless but physically less so and a spendthrift in other words a great unconventional hero. Wilde's Sherlockian deductions work well even if there are a litle too many and some are heavy handed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I did enjoy it very much
I did enjoy it very much and recommend it to anyone who likes a good read and look forward to reading more from the same series.
Published 6 months ago by Paul Gilbert
4.0 out of 5 stars WIT, STYLE & AUDACITY
The 1889 killing of young male prostitute Billy Wood must be avenged. Inspired by the recently published "A Study in Scarlet", Oscar Wilde emulates Holmes to track down the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
4.0 out of 5 stars OSCAR WILDE AND THE CANDLELIGHT MURDERS.
In many ways but not all (I certainly worked out whodunit three quarters of the way through) a ripping yarn of a murder mystery with a romantic sub-plot. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tracy Terry
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written
This book was well-written and underpinned by a deep love of all things Wildean. The plot was intriguing but the twist was expected. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Livia D
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
This is a great book, for reasons which I didn't quite expect. It's one of those books which is incredibly easy and enjoyable to read; however, it also manages to pay homage to and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Michael Jacobs
2.0 out of 5 stars Murder by Candlelight
It was not my cup of tea. This is the first book in the series and I found the subject matter a little odd. I have now read another in the series which was more to my taste.
Published 16 months ago by L. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars witty and readable, if a little superficial
This started off very well, with the discovery by Oscar Wilde of the dead body of a boy on the first page. Read more
Published 23 months ago by John Hopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar Wilde Mysteries
Brilliant from start to finish - loved every minute and will re-read in the future. An excellent starter to the series and totally believable - hard to distinguish fact from... Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2011 by Suse
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesomely Good
Reading about Oscar Wilde is to be detached from experiencing who he was, and while I understand this fantasy incarnation is coloured by the writer's impression of him, I felt I... Read more
Published on 10 Nov 2011 by Caps
3.0 out of 5 stars Just too Wilde
Gyles Brandreth is a really funny man. His memoir of his time as an MP, Breaking The Code, is the funniest political book I have ever read, and his contributions on Radio 4's `Just... Read more
Published on 16 April 2011 by FictionFan
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