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Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol: A Mystery (The Oscar Wilde Mysteries) Paperback – May 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: The Oscar Wilde Mysteries
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439153752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439153758
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* On May 25, 1895, while Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was playing to packed houses in the West End, the author himself was led from the Old Bailey into Newgate Prison and, finally, to Reading Gaol, where he served a two-year sentence for his “immoral” affair with Lord Alfred Douglas (the theater managers, Brandreth informs us, removed Wilde’s name from the playbills and posters so as not to offend the public but kept taking in the profits). This sixth installment of Brandreth’s series, in which Wilde and his real-life friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle often team up to solve mysteries, may well be the best of a consistently terrific lot. For one thing, this book has Wilde narrating in the first person; earlier, the series’ conceit was that Wilde’s biographer, Robert Sherard, wrote these stories to be published after his own death. This last is as “dictated” by Wilde, and Brandreth captures both the witty and the remorseful author without sounding at all false or forced. The subject itself, which focuses on Victorian prison conditions—public lashings, hard labor, and solitary confinement (and the odd detail like the fact that prisoners were given two books, the Bible and The Pilgrim’s Progress)—is absorbing, especially delivered from Wilde’s perspective. Two murders occur along the way, and Wilde is called upon to help solve them, but they take a backseat to the central story of Wilde’s suffering and redemption in prison. Absolutely captivating and moving. --Connie Fletcher

About the Author

Gyles Brandreth is a prominent BBC broadcaster, theatre producer, novelist, and biographer. He has written bestselling biographies of Britain’s royal family and an acclaimed diary of his years as a member of Parliament. Visit OscarWildeMurderMysteries.net.

Customer Reviews

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Truly great historical fiction.
The Curious Dame
Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth is about Wilde's time spent in prison.
Sheri Newton
Each one in this series gets better, but I would still recommend reading them all in order.
lfleming

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Suzi Hough VINE VOICE on May 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
For two years, Oscar Wilde was imprisoned at Reading Gaol; once he was released, he fled to France. As he sits nursing a drink at the Café Suisse, a stranger approaches him with an offer: cash for the story of Wilde's time behind bars. That evening, and through the next day, Wilde regales his companion with his suffering: the poor food, the solitary confinement, the lack of reading and writing materials, the hard manual labor...and the mysterious murders that plagued the prison.

As I understand it, the premise of this series is that Oscar Wilde's friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (sound familiar?) introduced him to the use of rational, logical thinking for solving crime. Wilde's natural intelligence and wit has made him a natural detective, and he has solved several murders already.

Although this is not the first book in the Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series, it's the first one that I've read. I had heard that it wasn't necessary to read the rest of the series in order to understand the events of this novel, and for the most part I found this to be true. However, I certainly would have benefited from reading a biography of Wilde first. Virtually all I know of Oscar Wilde comes from the film Wilde, but I fell asleep halfway through the movie so really, it hardly counts. Very little is said of the years leading up to Wilde's imprisonment. I would have liked to know more about the trial, for example - although the charges are clear, there's little discussion about how Wilde was caught or what testimony was found against him. These details weren't necessary to the story, but I still wondered.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Newton on May 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandreth is about Wilde's time spent in prison. It is cold, harsh, and quite different than the life he was living before being imprisoned. Take a dive into this story and feel what it was like for Wilde during his time in prison.

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol is a novel that is more about Wilde's life in prison than a mystery, like the other stories in the series. After living for pure pleasure out of life, Wilde's life in prison is quite horrible. However, he is able to eventually see it as a period in his life that he needed for his soul to evolve. Seeing Oscar Wilde in this light is quite different from the guy you normally think of or read about in such stories.

Of course no novel about Oscar Wilde is complete without some sort of murder mystery, so that is included, too. Fans of the series and Oscar Wilde will definitely enjoy this novel.

* Thank you to the publisher of Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol, Touchstone, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Koch VINE VOICE on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am not familiar with Oscar Wilde or that there was a book series about him. I was just intrigued by the pure premise of this book. Then when I got the book, even before opening it I started to have second thoughts about it.

Well like they say, you can not judge a book by its cover. This book was way better then I thought it would be. I started it at night thinking it would help me get to sleep quicker. It had the opposite effect. I actually had to put it down so that I could get some sleep. It was like I was Oscar and I could hear the voice of my cell mate. Feel the resentment of the guard and feel the cold eating into my skin at night from my cold cell.

I got to learn about who Oscar was as a person before his death. After reading this book I went online to learn more about Oscar. Mr. Brandreth really captured the voice of Mr. Wilde. I read that these books are going to be turned into a television series on BBC. I will check this television series out. This is a book that mystery fans will enjoy.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laurence J. Coven on June 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, some mystery series, like sit-coms, i.e. Newhart, go out with a bang, and others, such as Seinfeld, leave us with a fizzle. Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol is the sixth and final in the Wilde murder mystery adventures, which are among the best of recent times. Brandreth capably taps into the Holmesian canon successfully avoiding any appearance by Holmes himself. Other writers have allowed Holmes to actually inhabit the same world with the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Sigmund Freud, and Jack the Ripper. Though many of these efforts are worthy pastiches they cannot avoid a sense of forced creativity.

Reading Gaol is brilliant, exceeding all expectations of a series' concluding novel. It is at once a tale of murder with a superb, breath-taking final twist, while simultaneously rising to a level of lofty literary excellence. I won't add the moronic phrase "for a mystery novel" because unlike the late, unlamented Edmund Wilson (Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?) detective fiction has been able to take its place among the best literature written since it was first created by Edgar Allan Poe (or Wilkie Collins--take your pick), as discerning critics have long realized.

The novel centers around Wilde's time in prison.

He was sentence to two years of hard labor for his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas.
Wilde has been humiliated, disgraced in public, stripped of his fortune, and his great reputation lost (though it will be restored with interest after his death). Worst of all he has been virtually totally separated from his beloved Constance and his two sons.

While at Reading he is in cell block C, cell 3. He, like all the prisoners, can only be referred to by their location. So he becomes C-3.
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Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol: A Mystery (The Oscar Wilde Mysteries)
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