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In OSCAR WILDE AND THE MURDERS AT READING GAOL, the sixth in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading Gaol's most famous prisoner is pitted against a ruthless and fiendishly clever serial killer. 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, In OSCAR WILDE AND THE MURDERS AT READING GAOL, the sixth in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading Gaol's most famous prisoner is pitted against a ruthless and fiendishly clever serial killer. 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, novelist, raconteur and ex-convict, has fled the country after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. He has endured a harsh regime: the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, Oscar's astonishing detective powers remain undiminished - and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol's most celebrated inmate? In this, the latest novel in his acclaimed Oscar Wilde murder mystery series, Gyles Brandreth takes us deep into the dark heart of Wilde's cruel incarceration.


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In OSCAR WILDE AND THE MURDERS AT READING GAOL, the sixth in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading Gaol's most famous prisoner is pitted against a ruthless and fiendishly clever serial killer. 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, In OSCAR WILDE AND THE MURDERS AT READING GAOL, the sixth in Gyles Brandreth's acclaimed Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series featuring Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, Reading Gaol's most famous prisoner is pitted against a ruthless and fiendishly clever serial killer. 'Intelligent, amusing and entertaining' Alexander McCall Smith It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, novelist, raconteur and ex-convict, has fled the country after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. He has endured a harsh regime: the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, Oscar's astonishing detective powers remain undiminished - and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol's most celebrated inmate? In this, the latest novel in his acclaimed Oscar Wilde murder mystery series, Gyles Brandreth takes us deep into the dark heart of Wilde's cruel incarceration.

30 review for Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

  1. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This is probably the hardest reads of the Oscar Wilde as detective novels I have read. This is because the book is mostly set during Wilde's incarceration at Reading Gaol after being found guilty under the UK's oppressive male sexual crimes acts. Gyles Brandreth pulls no punches and the picture he paints of the British penal system in the 1890s is vile and stomach turning. The crimes, however, are inventive and clever, and ameliorate the distress of the story's background. I do like the fact that Br This is probably the hardest reads of the Oscar Wilde as detective novels I have read. This is because the book is mostly set during Wilde's incarceration at Reading Gaol after being found guilty under the UK's oppressive male sexual crimes acts. Gyles Brandreth pulls no punches and the picture he paints of the British penal system in the 1890s is vile and stomach turning. The crimes, however, are inventive and clever, and ameliorate the distress of the story's background. I do like the fact that Brandreth is careful to use period appropriate language. Nothing infuriates me more than seeing the words "gay" and "homosexual" being used at a time when they simply did not exist in that context. In fact, the word homosexual had only been coined in 1886 by Kraft-Ebing in his book "Psychopathia Sexualis" and was barely in use at the time as a medical term, let alone in general conversation. So to see the terms "perverse" and "invert" being used as they would have been, gives a greater feeling of authenticity to the book. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roger Kean

    The wonderful conceit that Arthur Conan Doyle based his fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes on Oscar Wilde (Conan Doyle, of course, being Watson) has given Gyles Brandreth a marvellous sheet on which to create a brilliant series, both from the mysteries and the Wildean wit, of which surely Brandreth is the only author capable of matching the legend. The previous five books sparkled with a light touch which is less noticeable in The Murders at Reading Gaol, although there are some laughs and disgrac The wonderful conceit that Arthur Conan Doyle based his fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes on Oscar Wilde (Conan Doyle, of course, being Watson) has given Gyles Brandreth a marvellous sheet on which to create a brilliant series, both from the mysteries and the Wildean wit, of which surely Brandreth is the only author capable of matching the legend. The previous five books sparkled with a light touch which is less noticeable in The Murders at Reading Gaol, although there are some laughs and disgraced Wilde is still capable of a neat epigram, but in this last of the series, Brandreth elicits all the pathos and degradation of the terrible punishment Oscar faces for daring to love Bosie. In the previous stories, Wilde's homosexuality barely signifies, though there are indications of a slide toward "the dark side" in The Vatican Murders, but in Reading Gaol the sexuality gloves are off, and the book is all the greater for it. But amid the gloom there is a twisty tale of deceit, blackmail, and murder… and Brandreth makes us wait to the very last paragraphs to discover the murderer's identity. Great stuff! Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (U.S.: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance) Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death (U.S.: Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder) Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile) Oscar Wilde and the Nest of Vipers (U.S.: Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders) Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Hines

    In the latest installment of the Oscar Wilde novels, and the last, Brandreth outdoes himself with such a stellar novel! Oscar Wilde tells his tale of what happened while he was incarcerated in the prison of Reading Gaol for just over two years. In fact, everything that transpires is gritty and gripping. I couldn't stop turning the pages, so enthralled was I with Wilde's story - one he tells after his release. While he's spending his time, Wilde's clever detective skills are put to use when a ward In the latest installment of the Oscar Wilde novels, and the last, Brandreth outdoes himself with such a stellar novel! Oscar Wilde tells his tale of what happened while he was incarcerated in the prison of Reading Gaol for just over two years. In fact, everything that transpires is gritty and gripping. I couldn't stop turning the pages, so enthralled was I with Wilde's story - one he tells after his release. While he's spending his time, Wilde's clever detective skills are put to use when a warden and a chaplain are found murdered. But what I found the most riveting is the change in Wilde's character. He really gives us, the reader, an indepth look into what he's thinking. Being silence, when he's used to speaking whenever he wanted and how, not to mention that there is next to no humor in between these pages, it's clear that Wilde faces some of his own fears and humanity. I'm sad to see the series end, but if this is, indeed, the last one, Brandreth did Wilde proud. Excellent writing and character depiction. If you enjoy this series, you won't want to miss this one. It's the best of the series! I can't praise this book enough!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    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 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    Curiosity and my love for Oscar Wilde made me pick up this book. Didn't think anyone could write in his voice. I was totally and pleasantly surprised. What a wonderful read! Mr. Brandreth does an outstanding job of placing the reader in a Victorian England prison and inside Mr. Wilde's mind with wonderful unexpected turns. I can't wait to read the rest of the series. Curiosity and my love for Oscar Wilde made me pick up this book. Didn't think anyone could write in his voice. I was totally and pleasantly surprised. What a wonderful read! Mr. Brandreth does an outstanding job of placing the reader in a Victorian England prison and inside Mr. Wilde's mind with wonderful unexpected turns. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Neil Schleifer

    Gyles Brandreth's sixth book in this series of historical fiction mysteries is amazing on multiple counts. First, as historical fiction Brandreth provides an exhaustively comprehensive look at what the British penal system was like at the turn of the twentieth century. Next, tonally Brandreth hits the mark spot-on with his ability to recreate the voice and persona of Wilde as well as those who surround him. This novel, set in the aftermath of Wilde's imprisonment for "gross indecency," finds a d Gyles Brandreth's sixth book in this series of historical fiction mysteries is amazing on multiple counts. First, as historical fiction Brandreth provides an exhaustively comprehensive look at what the British penal system was like at the turn of the twentieth century. Next, tonally Brandreth hits the mark spot-on with his ability to recreate the voice and persona of Wilde as well as those who surround him. This novel, set in the aftermath of Wilde's imprisonment for "gross indecency," finds a decidedly different Wilde than in his previous novels -- a more melancholy soul with a far more plaintive voice. As such, it provides a true sense of the man whose spirit was, if not broken by the experience of hard labor, certainly splintered by it. Finally, Brandreth is most successful at creating a mystery that is suspenseful to the last page. It is my hope that he continues the series, although, in truth, this novel does seem to be the perfect place for a finish. But as Wilde himself said, "the truth is rarely pure and never simple," so one can only hope that Brandreth will see fit to pin the green carnation to his lapel one last time and step into the spats, the voice, and the mystery of Oscar Wilde one more time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lokita

    I LOVE this series. Brandreth brings, not just Oscar, but the entire Victorian world to glorious, sparkling life, complete with actual "Oscarisms" sprinkled throughout. This is the final book in the series, and it could be argued that it is the most ambitious, poignant, introspective, meaningful, and well-researched. It could also be argued that these things make it the darkest, dreariest, most painful book to get through. Brandreth pulls no punches. It might not be as in-your-face as Shawshank or I LOVE this series. Brandreth brings, not just Oscar, but the entire Victorian world to glorious, sparkling life, complete with actual "Oscarisms" sprinkled throughout. This is the final book in the series, and it could be argued that it is the most ambitious, poignant, introspective, meaningful, and well-researched. It could also be argued that these things make it the darkest, dreariest, most painful book to get through. Brandreth pulls no punches. It might not be as in-your-face as Shawshank or Escape From Alcatraz, but this is a prison story from start to finish, and it's nasty. Some things endured by characters who survive are far worse than the causes of death of others. Our darling Oscar, while not incapable of a sarcastic comeback, is in pain throughout the entirety. Every time I thought things couldn't get worse, I regretted tempting fate. (Or the author.) And while I expect a degree of luridity (is that a word?) from most things Oscar, they're taken to gross lengths. By all means, you should read this painful portrait of 1890s British prison life. It will open your eyes, and hopefully be as educational as it is enlightening. Just be prepared to cry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan Wight

    Gyles Brendreth's Oscar series is fun, its original and gives a good evocation of the time. In most of the books he takes the voice of Robert Sherard, a friend and first biographer of Wilde. He uses the voice of Sherard to create Sherlock Holmes type mysteries with Oscar as the detective. It sounds a bit far fetched, but it works in quite a delightful way. Half the fun is spotting the real Oscar-isms along the way. In this book, Brandreth takes it one step further and has the audacity to assume Gyles Brendreth's Oscar series is fun, its original and gives a good evocation of the time. In most of the books he takes the voice of Robert Sherard, a friend and first biographer of Wilde. He uses the voice of Sherard to create Sherlock Holmes type mysteries with Oscar as the detective. It sounds a bit far fetched, but it works in quite a delightful way. Half the fun is spotting the real Oscar-isms along the way. In this book, Brandreth takes it one step further and has the audacity to assume Oscar's own voice. Once you forgive him and accept it is the only way to tell the story from inside Reading Gaol, it works quite well but doesn't have the same charm as others in the series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ria

    This mystery has an even darker tone than the others as it deals with Oscar's imprisonment and although he is trying to work out a series of murders perpetrated during his incarceration there is a feeling he has given up and totally despondent with life and at this period you hear next to nothing of Doyle and Sherard. A very exciting tale of murders happening in such a confined area but at the same time there is also a sense of hopelessness and bleakness on the part of Oscar who seems to have ha This mystery has an even darker tone than the others as it deals with Oscar's imprisonment and although he is trying to work out a series of murders perpetrated during his incarceration there is a feeling he has given up and totally despondent with life and at this period you hear next to nothing of Doyle and Sherard. A very exciting tale of murders happening in such a confined area but at the same time there is also a sense of hopelessness and bleakness on the part of Oscar who seems to have had to grow up fast in view of the dramatic turn his life has taken. WHO was it who committed the murders at Reading jail? Can Oscar ever find out...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dom

    A library blindfind, hadn't known about the series but the cover caught my attention. I read it on derby vacation in Seattle and it was a lovely travel story - whimsy, grit, lamented passions, investigative intrigue, and stalwart panache. Historically attentive, Brandreth cites sources and provides additional information to the precise locations and texts mentioned in the books which contributed to the immersive environment of the story. I'd read more of the series to be certain. Wild for Wilde A library blindfind, hadn't known about the series but the cover caught my attention. I read it on derby vacation in Seattle and it was a lovely travel story - whimsy, grit, lamented passions, investigative intrigue, and stalwart panache. Historically attentive, Brandreth cites sources and provides additional information to the precise locations and texts mentioned in the books which contributed to the immersive environment of the story. I'd read more of the series to be certain. Wild for Wilde

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    There seem to a lot of 4 and 5 star results for this novel. However, I found there were 2 stories here which didn't quite mesh. One is the story of his incarceration and the horrors of the penal system in England in Victorian times. The hypocrisy is all too evident. The way that Wilde dealt with the privations of silence and isolation were worth reading. The other story of the murders are threaded through the main story but feel like a distraction to me. There seem to a lot of 4 and 5 star results for this novel. However, I found there were 2 stories here which didn't quite mesh. One is the story of his incarceration and the horrors of the penal system in England in Victorian times. The hypocrisy is all too evident. The way that Wilde dealt with the privations of silence and isolation were worth reading. The other story of the murders are threaded through the main story but feel like a distraction to me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Oscar Wilde And The Murders At Reading Gaol While in prison serving two years hard labour after his trial at The Old Bailey, Oscar Wilde is at his lowest. But before long Oscar is investigating murder within the Gaol. This is another marvellous Oscar Wilde mystery by Giles Brandreth with a twist at the end you will never see coming. Highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    A. Lieberson

    At first the book to seem very slow spending most of the time on solitude, bad food and no contact with anyone. But the plot was much better when Oscar heard Private Luck whisper to him. Two murdrs take place and the Govenor wants Oscar Wilde to solve them. The story is being told by Wilde to a stranger in Paris after he has served his two years in prison.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ro Prufrock

    at first i was like: "how dare u write about Oscar in the first person? what is this? why aren't MY fanfics published with such beautiful - so!! pretty!! - covers?" but then i got over my envy & actually really enjoyed this book. will definitely read the other ones from the series!! at first i was like: "how dare u write about Oscar in the first person? what is this? why aren't MY fanfics published with such beautiful - so!! pretty!! - covers?" but then i got over my envy & actually really enjoyed this book. will definitely read the other ones from the series!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Judith Gunn

    This book is grand fun. It gives Wilde something to do while he is serving out his sentence for having a romantic relationship with another man. He is a witness to multiple murders and figures out who did them. The answer is quite shocking; I won't give anything away. This book is grand fun. It gives Wilde something to do while he is serving out his sentence for having a romantic relationship with another man. He is a witness to multiple murders and figures out who did them. The answer is quite shocking; I won't give anything away.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This is the second book I've read in this series and I'm so happy to say it didn't disappoint! Beautifully written and keeps you hooked all the way through This is the second book I've read in this series and I'm so happy to say it didn't disappoint! Beautifully written and keeps you hooked all the way through

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shameeleon

    Oscar Wilde what a geezer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dunn

    A fitting finale - the best of the set

  19. 5 out of 5

    April Oh

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fascinating story, very historical, captivating. Read this very easily and couldn't put it down. Second book by this author and I'm ready for more!! Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fascinating story, very historical, captivating. Read this very easily and couldn't put it down. Second book by this author and I'm ready for more!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Cromer

    Sad but a completely absorbing story of Wilde's ending years and an interesting fictional story too. Sad but a completely absorbing story of Wilde's ending years and an interesting fictional story too.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish

    Seems as if it may be brilliant, but way too dark for me. Also, it's sixth in the series, and though it seems as if it's fine to skip 2-5, I really don't want to. Seems as if it may be brilliant, but way too dark for me. Also, it's sixth in the series, and though it seems as if it's fine to skip 2-5, I really don't want to.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Ripping yarn, with verisimilitude and late-Victorian melancholy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Oismiffy

    Different from others in the series, but I enjoyed this one. Well worthy of 4 stars

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Oscar Wilde, Detective Once again, I’ve jumped into the middle of a mystery series—this time the Oscar Wilde mysteries by Gyles Brandreth. I requested (and received) a review copy of the sixth book in the series, Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Goal. I figured Oscar Wilde, mystery novel, free ebook—that’s a chance worth taking. And I was right. This book is largely set in (no surprise) Reading Goal, where Wilde spent the majority of his two-year sentence for gross indecency. (There’s a whol Oscar Wilde, Detective Once again, I’ve jumped into the middle of a mystery series—this time the Oscar Wilde mysteries by Gyles Brandreth. I requested (and received) a review copy of the sixth book in the series, Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Goal. I figured Oscar Wilde, mystery novel, free ebook—that’s a chance worth taking. And I was right. This book is largely set in (no surprise) Reading Goal, where Wilde spent the majority of his two-year sentence for gross indecency. (There’s a whole back story here that deserves study from biographical, legal, and cultural perspectives, but I’m not going to go into that here; just know that if you poke about on the internet or in a library there’s lots to learn.) The pace is slow. The clues, which often aren’t immediately recognizable as clues, are dealt out sparingly. The beginning, end, and a central interval are set in Dieppe, France, after Wilde has been released and where he is recounting the story of his imprisonment to an unknown man who’s offered to write the story up for publication and split the profits. Because Wilde’s prison life is monotonous (both as lived and in the later retelling), one needs to be prepared for a somewhat turgid pace. (Note that I don’t mean “turgid” in a bad way; it’s just the best word I could come up with in terms of denotation, even though it’s not quite right in terms of connotation.) This novel isn’t a cliff-hanger that ends each chapter leaving the reader desperate to begin the next. Once one adjusts to the pace, this is an ideal book for end-of-day reading: engaging, but not over-stimulating, something that will allow you to enjoy settling in for the evening without tempting you to sacrifice sleep in order to keep reading. I prepped for reading this book as I often do by searching for on-line reviews, both professional and amateur. Most of the reviews agreed on a few points: • the murders are secondary to the central story • the central story is, in fact, a tale of Wilde’s emotional and ethical maturation that results from his imprisonment. I have to say I disagree. I approached this book anticipating a character study, but found myself reading—as the cover promised and as most reviewers denied—a mystery novel. Yes, Wilde reflects a bit on his life during his time in goal, and he is somewhat changed. But the material of real interest starts about two-thirds of the way through as one begins to see the puzzle that’s being presented, but can’t yet begin to predict its answer. The mystery is presented with subtlety, but mystery it is, and as far as I’m concerned the mystery is the heart of the book. I’m not going to say more about the plot here because I think this book is best approached “chastely,” without the bump-and-grind or quick feel provided by spoilers and near spoilers. There is, however, one last topic I’d like to remark on, and that’s the pleasure of reading a book peopled in part by writers whose work I appreciate. Wilde is the only author who is present as a character in the book, but Wilde’s friend Arthur Conan Doyle is an on-going presence. Wilde knows Conan Doyle’s work and identifies with Holmes with the same sort of smug self-confidence typical of Holmes himself. I enjoyed the amalgam created by this blending of bon mot and great detective. I’m eager now to read earlier books in the series in which Conan Doyle appears as a character. (And Bram Stoker appears in the second volume in the series—bonus!) If you have the patience—or the need—to move slowly and take pleasure in thinking about the ways writers’ mind operate, I expect you’ll enjoy this series as much as I enjoyed the one volume I’ve read thus far.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    The sixth of the Brandreth Oscar Wilde murder mysteries, this is in many ways my favourite. That is, I suppose, because for me these books have been more about Brandreth's re-creation of Wilde's voice and milieu, and the murder mystery in each has been secondary. So this novel, which takes place during and just after Wilde's brutal incarceration for homosexuality, is enormously satisfying in its evocation of time and place, even though, by necessity, we lose Conan Doyle as a character, and also The sixth of the Brandreth Oscar Wilde murder mysteries, this is in many ways my favourite. That is, I suppose, because for me these books have been more about Brandreth's re-creation of Wilde's voice and milieu, and the murder mystery in each has been secondary. So this novel, which takes place during and just after Wilde's brutal incarceration for homosexuality, is enormously satisfying in its evocation of time and place, even though, by necessity, we lose Conan Doyle as a character, and also by necessity, the whole tone is quite a bit darker than in the rest of the series. Brandreth is not nearly as sorry for Wilde as he was for himself - unsurprisingly - in De Profundis, his essay-letter from jail. His painful separation from the unworthy Douglas, which of course obsessed the real Wilde, barely gets a mention here. Instead, we get a gallery of minor characters, including some gay and/or cross-dressing, and on every step of the villainy ladder. The delight, of course, is in Wilde's acute observations of them. While I'm in hopes this won't be the last "Oscar Wilde and...", it comes chronologically very close to the end of Wilde's life, so if we are to have another, it will either have to be absolutely on the Paris deathbed, or dip back into earlier (and more light-hearted) times. I'm up for either, Mr. Brandreth.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

    The beginning of this last book was so very promising of a rare brilliant book. It didn't manage it or live up to expectations as the start had so faithfully promised. The recommend books were: Richard Ellman (sadly, for he was complete liar), The Complete Letters (one wonders how close at hand his edition was?) and Franny Moyle (same as the letters). If he had read Franny Moyle's book on Constance Wilde he would have noted that it wasn't a fall on the stairs that brought her low or the fact she The beginning of this last book was so very promising of a rare brilliant book. It didn't manage it or live up to expectations as the start had so faithfully promised. The recommend books were: Richard Ellman (sadly, for he was complete liar), The Complete Letters (one wonders how close at hand his edition was?) and Franny Moyle (same as the letters). If he had read Franny Moyle's book on Constance Wilde he would have noted that it wasn't a fall on the stairs that brought her low or the fact she needed an operation on her spine. She needed the operation but it was not for her spine. If there is another real mystery to solve it would be whether or not Otho (Lloyd) Holland had anything to do with the unexpected death of her surgeon? In the first 50 pages this book had shown an aspect of Oscar Wilde spoken of a lot but with no detail. As I was reading it I couldn't imagine how Brandreth could write it. I could not without crying my eyes out. No, I don't think I could write three pages. I started to have my suspicions when the hanging of Trooper Wooldridge (thankfully no relation) was brushed over. The Ballad of Reading Gaol gives a full account of the death of the man and the reaction in the prison. The only reaction to a hanging in the book was of another man's. I also had my suspicions when another prisoner was allowed to keep his make-up. The crime is likely truthful, however, I don't think his existence would be much tolerated. I have come to believe that men like Oscar Wilde and the other prisoner and even a supposed warder would not have been acceptable and would have been picked on. Indeed in a letter he writes that a fellow prisoner whispered that he was worse off than anyone else. It was also made apparent in other books that Oscar Wilde spent more time in Solitary confinement than one visit and by other accounts he always broke the rules. There was the deprivation of visitors and letters by his friends as mentioned in his own letters but as time moved on that did improve, however, this was not mentioned in this story other than Constance visiting. I was disappointed as well with his characterisation of warder Thomas Martin. In the story warder Martin seemed to be an aloof fellow who had a nice side but seemed rather indifferent to everything around him. Whereas in the complete letters collection warder Martin takes a caring consideration for not only the children that are incarcerated in that horrible prison he cared for the shabby treatment of Oscar Wilde and other prisoners. It is the beginning and the beginning alone that earns it three stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hana Howard

    Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol Gyles Brandreth This is the most terrifying novel in the Oscar Wilde series. In Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol, the reader is guided by Mr. Wilde’s own narrative through the havoc of his darkest years. It is his own account of what occurred during the 25 months between May 1895 and June 25 1897, as told after his release to the strange Dr. Quilp. This book lacks the whimsical atmosphere of the previous books. It grips the reader with an inte Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol Gyles Brandreth This is the most terrifying novel in the Oscar Wilde series. In Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol, the reader is guided by Mr. Wilde’s own narrative through the havoc of his darkest years. It is his own account of what occurred during the 25 months between May 1895 and June 25 1897, as told after his release to the strange Dr. Quilp. This book lacks the whimsical atmosphere of the previous books. It grips the reader with an intensity that keeps you turning page after page. In the previous mystery novels by Mr. Brandreth, the reader has followed Oscar Wilde’s accomplishments and detective powers, as he reaches the pinnacle of success in the arts and society. We are now introduced to his down fall and it is quite a drop. His fame has turned to infamy. Even in the midst of his melancholy he retains his astounding ability of awareness. His detective powers are called upon to help solve the murders of two diverse characters, a brutal warder and the prison Chaplin. The insight into Oscar Wilde’s thoughts and ruminations are realistic and intoxicating. Brandreth evokes the readers empathy as he describes the heroes trials. Before imprisonment happiness was the essence of his life and the reader was allowed the precarious experience of enjoying his exploits along side of him and his friend Sir Arthur Doyle. This man who loved using language and loved to play and savor the sounds out loud is sent to prison where no talking is allowed. And for this prolific writer of words dammed with no paper or books. Oscar finds himself having to confront his past actions and weigh himself in the balance. Recalling the abasements and humiliations that have replaced praise and pleasure; looking at his hands that are cut and callused, Oscar resolves to get something out of his punishment beyond bitterness and despair. The characters as usual written by Brandreth are various and at different levels of meanness and compassion. They awake emotions in Wilde that he has to deal with. The inmates are characters well drawn to tragedy. The warders in some instances very cruel. The inmates are isolated in their own cells when each of the murders occur. The Governor is reluctant to call in the police, since the first murder is made to look like a suicide. Oscar is recommended for his opinions on the evidence. When the Chaplin is found dead, Oscar is certain that a serial killer maybe hiding behind the walls, whether prisoner or warder is not clear. Hopefully this will not be the last novel in Gyles Brandreth’s Oscar Wilde mystery series. Pre sequels would be wonderful.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy McKibben

    Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol By Gyles Brandreth Oscar Wilde, compelled by author Gyles Brandreth, has joined the ranks of dead authors turned into detectives (he has fortunately thus far escaped being turned into a zombie or vampire hunter.) While this isn’t my favorite sub-genre, wonderful things can happen in the hands of the right author. I have always loved Wilde the writer and pitied Wilde the man, the genius who was the darling of Victorian society until he was disgraced and d Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol By Gyles Brandreth Oscar Wilde, compelled by author Gyles Brandreth, has joined the ranks of dead authors turned into detectives (he has fortunately thus far escaped being turned into a zombie or vampire hunter.) While this isn’t my favorite sub-genre, wonderful things can happen in the hands of the right author. I have always loved Wilde the writer and pitied Wilde the man, the genius who was the darling of Victorian society until he was disgraced and died poor and estranged from his family at just forty-one years of age. Given that not everyone is familiar with Oscar Wilde, this series serves as a gentle introduction. He is best known for his plays, which are for the most part witty comedies that skewer the hypocrisies of British society - The Importance of Being Earnest is my favorite; for his fairy tales like The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant; for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray; for his poetry and essays; and for his epigrams: “I can resist anything but temptation” is a famous one. Another: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” This is the sixth of the Oscar Wilde series, and it covers the unhappy years when Wilde, who was married and had a family, became so besotted with the young noble Robert Ross that he abandoned all discretion and let their affair become known to Ross’s father. Victorian society, who had hitherto lauded Wilde, rewarded him with a two year jail sentence for sodomy after Ross’s father brought charges against him. Victorian prisons were grim places indeed, and this book reflects Wilde’s surroundings; it is altogether darker than the works that precede it. But Wilde is an interesting companion, even when he is despairing, and he is clever enough to solve two murders that take place in Reading Gaol, even though he is confined like all prisoners in a solitary cell and is forbidden to speak to anyone. One of the strengths of this series is the way Brandreth so convincingly uses the facts of Wilde’s life to create his fiction. For example, Wilde was good friends with Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, so Wilde is able to learn methods of detection from Doyle in a natural way. The narrator of the series is Robert Sherard, a close friend of Wilde and his biographer, so he can admiringly record Wilde’s adventures. And after finishing this book, I read Wilde’s "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" which he did indeed write after leaving prison. So although this book is more somber than the others, it is still compelling, and as well worth reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tex Reader

    3.0 of 5 - Interesting & Involving, Yet Different in a Dreary Way. I love a good gay historical mystery, especially with Oscar Wilde on the case; and while this was interesting, it was also a bit disappointing. That was partly just me not getting what I expected or hoped for, since I enjoyed the first in this series. By this sixth one, Gyles Brandreth departed from his formula with a darker setting that was not as much about a mystery as about Wilde’s imprisonment. Brandreth told the story from Os 3.0 of 5 - Interesting & Involving, Yet Different in a Dreary Way. I love a good gay historical mystery, especially with Oscar Wilde on the case; and while this was interesting, it was also a bit disappointing. That was partly just me not getting what I expected or hoped for, since I enjoyed the first in this series. By this sixth one, Gyles Brandreth departed from his formula with a darker setting that was not as much about a mystery as about Wilde’s imprisonment. Brandreth told the story from Oscar’s 1st-person POV, narrated by his friend Robert Sherard, who was also in previous books. This was effective in letting me experience Wilde’s gaol experience as he did, as fictionalized by Brandreth; and I enjoyed learning more about this period near the end of Wilde’s life, as well as the historical aspects, albeit just in the prison. Yet the structure also led to a slow start. In fact, the mysterious death doesn’t occur until almost halfway through. Before that and woven in after, it talked of “dreariness,” “desolation,” “disgrace,” “disrepute,” “disgust,” “disdain,” “degradation” and “despair,” all rather dark and depressing without any intriguing action to go with Oscar’s prison days and maltreatment. While it was informative, it reminded me of why I had not wanted to read much about Wilde’s imprisonment. It now appears I no longer have to. Eventually the story won me over once the mystery was introduced, at least partially. The mystery made it more interesting, yet it and the characters were not as well developed as might have been, if given more page time. This was partly a result of Wilde’s limited access to others in the “separated system” of isolating prisoners. Sir Conan Doyle was also absent in this installment. In previous books this added to the entertainment; whereas this book lacked the enjoyable interactions filled with collaboration and Wilde’s delightful witticisms. And with the limited and light mystery also came a predictability, or at least a suspicion about the surprising twist at the end. This potentially could have been yet another sad story about the suffering of gays, with both bad gays and sad gays not having happy endings. Taking this beyond that trope, Brandreth’s storytelling made it interesting, just not as in-depth as I had previously enjoyed to sustain it. [Gay Men’s Book Group-Chicago monthly selection]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michelle L

    Victorian mysteries aren't my preferred sub-genre, but Brandreth cleverly tells this story in Wilde's educated voice, with his aesthetic values, so nothing twee here, nor smotheringly Gothic, those two banes of Victoriana most authors seem to revel in. This is so well-conceived and stylishly told that I cannot believe I never heard of this series until stumbling across it while desperately searching a local e-library for something to fill time. And did it ever! I am almost certain that very few Victorian mysteries aren't my preferred sub-genre, but Brandreth cleverly tells this story in Wilde's educated voice, with his aesthetic values, so nothing twee here, nor smotheringly Gothic, those two banes of Victoriana most authors seem to revel in. This is so well-conceived and stylishly told that I cannot believe I never heard of this series until stumbling across it while desperately searching a local e-library for something to fill time. And did it ever! I am almost certain that very few readers figured it out or anticipated the double twist at the end. Throw in some very interesting well-drawn characters and a hell of lot of atmosphere, and it's a really engaging read. We have five murders in what is essentially a high-security prison. The first killings are of two brothers who were brutal warders at separate jails where Wilde was sequentially held, the third was of Reading's dull but earnest chaplain, the fourth enigmatic. And the fifth is Wilde's spirit, elegantly yet clearly reported by Wilde within in the context of the story - a harrowing experience of an appalling system. The resolutions of the murders are believably solved solely by Wilde's mental prowess and observations, (he is given some latitude by the prison authorities who want his assistance in this, given his intelligence - and friendship with Conan Doyle, news to me). Brandreth has constructed this book from truth and imagination.But what is really appalling here is Wilde's factual description of the prison system's poisoning of his being - did you know they used the cat-o-nine-tails up until 1897 to punish prisoners, in two sizes dedicated to those not yet grown to full manhood/womanhood and to adults? They practiced the 'separate system' (American-originated), meaning that like some extreme (involuntary) monastic cult, prisoners were completely isolated in separate cells, clothed so that not even their faces showed behind veils, forbidden speech of any sort, and rigidly keeping five feet apart when released en masse each day for latrine and work duty, and Sundays for chapel. Complete isolation. Still, humanity, and murder, will out. The final degradation - no names. Wilde published "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" under his prison name - "C.3.3.", the prisoner in Ward C, Level 3, Cell 3.

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