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Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder

Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder

A Mystery

  • reading group guide
The second witty installment in an astonishingly authentic historical mystery series featuring detective Oscar Wilde and his partner in crime, Arthur Conan Doyle

It's 1892, and Wilde is the toast of London, riding high on the success of his play Lady Windemere's Fan. While celebrating with friends at a dinner party he conjures up a game called "murder" that poses the question: Who would you most like to kill? Wilde and friends -- including Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and poet Robert Sherard (the novel's narrator) -- write the names of their "victims" on pieces of paper and choose them one by one. After leaving the party, Wilde scoffs at the suggestion that he may have instigated a very dangerous game indeed....

The very next day, the game takes an all-too- sinister turn when the first "victim" turns up dead. Soon Wilde and his band of amateur detectives must travel through the realms of politics, theatre, and even boxing to unearth whose misguided passions have the potential to become deadly poisons...not only for the perpetrator of the seemingly perfect crimes but also for the trio of detectives investigating them.

Richly atmospheric and as entertaining as Wilde himself, this book is the second in a series destined to delight mystery readers and fans of historical fiction alike.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416534846 | 
  • September 2008
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Reading Group Guide

Questions For Discussion
1. The book begins with this quote: "Would you like to know the great drama of my life? It is that I have put my genius into my life...I have put only my talent into my works" (p. ix). What might Oscar Wilde have meant by this? Are there instances in the book where the fictional Wilde demonstrates this genius?
2. "Young people imagine that money is everything; when they grow older, they know it" (p. 194). In his daily interactions, how does Oscar demonstrate the truth of this remark? Compare Sherard's and Pearse's opinions of money with Oscar's.
3. To Oscar, ugliness is a sin he labels "the devil's work" (p. 155). In your opinion, why is he so distressed by things that are not beautiful? How does his quest for beauty color his life and daily interactions?
4. When Sherard asks Oscar why he deliberately makes an enemy of Charles Brookfield, Wilde says, "Because I cannot make him my friend" (p. 222). Do you agree that Oscar lacked the power to make a friend of Brookfield? Why weren't they friends? What does this say about Wilde's character? About Brookfield's?
5. Discuss the role of class in the book. How does Oscar differ from Alphonse Byrd and David McMuirtree in social rank? In particular, what does the book say about being a gentleman?
6. What are Sherard's first descriptions of Byrd when he is introduced to the story? How does our knowledge of this secretive man change as the mystery unfolds?
7. S see more

About the Author

Gyles Brandreth
Photo Credit:

Gyles Brandreth

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




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