Summary and book reviews of Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance

by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Lovers of historical mystery will relish this chilling Victorian tale based on real events and cloaked in authenticity. Best of all, it casts British literature's most fascinating and controversial figure as the lead sleuth. (UK title: Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders). Published in the USA simultaneously in hardcover and paperback.

Lovers of historical mystery will relish this chilling Victorian tale based on real events and cloaked in authenticity. Best of all, it casts British literature's most fascinating and controversial figure as the lead sleuth.

A young artist's model has been murdered, and legendary wit Oscar Wilde enlists his friends Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Sherard to help him investigate. But when they arrive at the scene of the crime they find no sign of the gruesome killing -- save one small spatter of blood, high on the wall. Set in London, Paris, Oxford, and Edinburgh at the height of Queen Victoria's reign, here is a gripping eyewitness account of Wilde's secret involvement in the curious case of Billy Wood, a young man whose brutal murder served as the inspiration for The Picture of Dorian Gray. Told by Wilde's contemporary -- poet Robert Sherard -- this novel provides a fascinating and evocative portrait of the great playwright and his own "consulting detective," Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

(Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance was first published in the UK as Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders.)

The good die first,
And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust
Burn to the socket.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
 

Chapter One
31 August 1889

On an afternoon ablaze with sunshine, at the very end of August 1889, a man in his mid-thirties -- tall, a little overweight, and certainly overdressed -- was admitted to a small terraced house in Cowley Street, in the City of Westminster, close by the Houses of Parliament.

The man was in a hurry and he was unaccustomed to hurrying. His face was flushed and his high forehead was beaded with perspiration. As he entered the house - No. 23 Cowley Street - he brushed past the woman who opened the door to him, immediately crossed the shallow hallway, and climbed the staircase to the first floor. There, facing him, across an uncarpeted landing, was a wooden door.

Momentarily, the man paused -- to smile, to catch his breath, to adjust his waistcoat, and, with both hands, to sweep back his wavy chestnut-...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions

  1. Wilde theorizes on page 171, "'Suspense is everything! Only the banal -- only the bearded and the bald -- live for the here-and-now. You and I, Robert, we live for the future, do we not? We live in anticipation." How does the author build suspense throughout the story? In what ways, if any, does the tone of the book change as the characters get closer to solving the mystery?
     
  2. What is Oscar Wilde's concept of truth? How does he display this concept in his actions and his descriptions of other's actions? Begin by examining page 261.
     
  3. On page 38, Oscar says, "I have changed my mind since then. Consistency, as you know, is the last refuge of the unimaginative." ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Mystery fans of deductive reasoning will appreciate this first book in the series, especially knowing that there will be eight more opportunities to enjoy Oscar Wilde as amateur sleuth.   (Reviewed by Vy Armour).

Full Review Members Only (691 words).

Media Reviews

Library Journal

Brandreth...spins a tale of human frailty and self-preservation...a promising start.

Publishers Weekly

Oscar Wilde makes a stylish sleuth in this clever series debut.

Booklist

Starred Review. A first-class stunner...[A] wow of a history-mystery...fascinating.

Sunday Times (UK)

A witty fin de si├Ęcle 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 Express (UK)

Genius...Wilde has sprung back to life in this thrilling and richly atmospheric new novel.... Magnificent...an unforgettable shocker about sex and vice, love and death.

Author Blurb Anne Perry
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.

Reader Reviews

J. Woodcock

Wilde Times
This is a great series -- very authentic with real characters and a skilled and perceptive author.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Did you know?

Although married and the father of two children, Wilde's intimate association with Alfred Douglas led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (illegal in Britain in 1895). Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor for the crime of sodomy. In spite of his fame as a successful playwright including The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) and A Woman of No Importance (1893) he died penniless in 1900 in a cheap hotel in Paris at the age of 46. More about Wilde at the official website owned by CMG Worldwide, who appear to have a thriving business protecting the intellectual property rights of dead celebrities!

In The Death of No Importance, Oscar Wilde makes reference to Dr. Thomas Holmes, often referred ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance, try these:

  • Detroit Shuffle jacket

    Detroit Shuffle

    by D.E. Johnson

    Published 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Johnson's immaculate plotting and high-tension writing make for a spellbinding read set in early twentieth-century Detroit.

  • The Neruda Case jacket

    The Neruda Case

    by Roberto Ampuero

    Published 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue,The Neruda Case is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Beware the man of one book

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.