The game is afoot

oscar game called murder

OSCAR WILDE & A GAME CALLED MURDER BY GYLES BRANDRETH

The second witty and fascinating book in the Oscar Wilde Mystery series by author, broadcaster and former MP, Gyles Brandreth. This hugely entertaining fictionalised series focuses on Oscar as an amateur sleuth, joined on his investigations by famous friends including Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and their elite circle.

The game is afoot as Oscar invites his friends and acquaintances to join him at the Cadogan Hotel for another Sunday Supper Club. During the merriment of the evening, the great wit cajoles his guests into a game – with murderous consequences.

The gathered writers, poets, politicians, sportsmen and clergymen are all asked, in jest, to secretly name someone they would most like to murder. In the subsequent week, the named victims (some of whom are Oscar’s guests) begin to drop like flies. Oscar smells murder most foul but can he solve the mystery before he loses his own life?

This book like the others in the series is a work of genius with its complex and exciting plot that zips along. An intelligent story, full of gorgeous Wildean wit and language that I read over and over just to savour the words. Brandreth and Wilde are made for each other. The stuff that is real is believeable and the invented is as wonderful, if not more so.

Sparkling and atmospheric throughout, this series is murder mystery at its best.

SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 9/10

Notes on the author – Gyles Brandrethgyles brandreth

  • He is a writer, broadcaster, former MP and government whip
  • Currently a reporter on BBC1’s The One Show and a regular on Radio 4’s Just a Minute
  • These acclaimed Victorian detective stories are now being published in 21 countries around the world.
  • Many my age will known him as the man in the crazy woolly jumpers on breakfast television in the 1980s

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Mysterious books, theft, cults and Google (the place)

MR PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE BY ROBIN SLOAN

book blogI picked up this novel at Blackwells in London. It was part of a wonderful display that could almost have been put together just for me – books about books.

And what a funny, page-flipping, enjoyable read this turned out to be.

Set in San Francisco, redundant web designer Clay Jannon finds himself night shift work in the curious Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It doesn’t take long for him to work out that the store is a front for some larger operation as it only has a handful of dedicated customers who never buy anything. They simply borrow huge, heavy obscure volumes all according to a bizarre arrangement with the likeable yet eccentric owner, Mr Penumbra.

Suspicions aroused, Clay plugs in his laptop and ropes his friends (including Google genius Kat) into embarking on a high-tech analysis of the store and the strange behaviour of its customers. Soon they find themselves mixed up in a global cult with ancient secrets, codes and conspiracies. And then Mr Penumbra mysteriously disappears. Continue reading

The lighter side to financial ruin

Financial lives of the poets jess walter

THE FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS BY JESS WALTER

I bought this book by Jess Walter as soon as I finished his excellent summer stunner Beautiful Ruins. It also came highly recommended by one of my favourite British authors, Nick Hornby. It didn’t disappoint.

The Financial Lives of the Poets is a touching, funny and desperate story of laid-off financial journalist Matt Prior and how he sails about as close to the edge of ruin as you can go.

After being made redundant from his newspaper, Matt embarks on starting a poetry website on all things financial. But who needs that, right? So when the hits don’t come and the debt racks up coupled with no income and his wife’s retail therapy on ebay, he ends up having just six days to save his house.

A chance meeting with a pothead at a 7/11 leads Matt to think that small-time drug dealing might be his salvation. The story that develops reminds me a little of Christopher Brookmyre’s comedy/crime novels. Matt’s plan to get funds fast at the same time as spying on his wife’s online lover, dealing with no sleep and a father stuck in the dementia cycle, means a great plot with superb, witty dialogue for us.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The perfect novel to race through in a few days with its short chapters and pacey storyline. My only negative would be that it all got tied up a little too tidily in the end and seemed to be cut short.

An author I will keep reading for sure, though.

SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 7/10

Notes on the author – Jess Walter

  • Lives in Washington
  • Author of 6 novels
  • Published in 15 countries