Ken's Reviews > Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance: A Mystery

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth
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's review
Jan 22, 09

bookshelves: in-england
Read in January, 2009

This is a 2.5 for me. I am not generally a reader of mysteries, but the prospect of a mystery with Oscar Wilde as the lead detective was a temptation too much for me resist. The novel is narrated by Robert Sherard who was, in real life, a close friend and the first biographer of Wilde. Brandreth presents the novel as written by Sherard--as if he recorded it in his journal.

The book begins with Wilde discovering the murder of Billy Wood; his is title the "murder of no importance." Wilde, however, knew Wood and determines to solve the crime. Sherard plays Dr. Watson to Oscar Wilde's Sherlock Holmes (which the characters themselves acknowledge, as Arthur Conan Doyle plays a significant role in the novel) as they two roam about London amongst a wide array of supporting characters: Mrs. O'Keefe, a devoted housekeeper; Aiden Fraser, a Scotland Yard inspector; Gerard Belotti, a low-level pimp; Veronica Sutherland, a red-haried beauty, and John Gray, a mysterious associate of Wilde.

The mystery itself is all right. I had a pretty good (though not certain) idea who did it about half way through--I imagine mystery readers will guess it sooner--but I would say the mystery is not the primary reason for reading this book. The enjoyment of this book--at least for me--was to immerse myself in Victorian England and the world of one its most interesting personalities. Brandreth has done extensive research on his subject, and that world is effectively recreated.

This is the first in a series of Oscar Wilde mysteries, and, although I won't rush to find the next title, I expect that I will continue the series the next time I am looking for a light story and a quick read that I know I will enjoy.
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