Oscar Wilde And A Game Called Murder

Written by Gyles Brandreth
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

In this mystery, set in 1892, Oscar Wilde and friends—including Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle—indulge in an after-dinner game. Each picks the person he would most like to murder and writes the name on a slip of paper, and then they all try to guess who wants to murder whom. Some want to murder people sitting at the table with them. Some choose distant individuals. One guest apparently longs to murder a parrot. The game turns frightening in the days that follow when several of the people named meet with sudden deaths, which the police attribute to coincidence. Wilde and his loyal and longsuffering wife are on the list of potential victims, so he is understandably motivated to play sleuth.

This is the second in a series of historical mysteries featuring Wilde. Brandreth writes with a light touch, but conveys a sense of the moral hypocrisy and oppressive class system of the time. What raises this book several notches above most mysteries is the authentic historical detail and the engaging portrait of Wilde, the foreshadowing of his unfortunate end, and the inclusion of sparkling bits of his wit and wisdom.