I have to confess that I have never really warmed to Gyles Brandreth, whether as a journalist, a TV personality or as an MP. However, with Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, I have been pleasantly surprised and will probably have to reassess my view of him.

It is 1889 and Oscar Wilde finds the body of a young man with his throat cut in the room of a house in Westminster where Wilde has an appointment. Although Scotland Yard do become involved, Wilde decides to investigate on his own as the young man was known to him, and he enlists two of his friends. Which sounds much as you would expect, except his friends are Robert Sherard, writer and great-grandson of William Wordsworth, and Artur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. The game is indeed afoot.

This is really good fun, witty and clever and gives a sense of what Wilde might have been like as a friend. His relationships with both Sherard and Conan Doyle are based on fact, and there are interesting biogrpahical notes at the end of the story for those of us who like to know a bit more of the factual background to this type of novel.

I did twig reasonably early on who might be involved in the death of Billy Wood, but not the reasons why or the detail around the murder and subsequent events. Trying to guess the culprit in a crime novel is all part of the fun as far as I am concerned and it’s always enjoyable to find out just how right or wrong I am. What makes this book so satisfying is the picture it portrays of late Victorian London and the lifestyles of those with a bit of money.

This is the first in a series (I think there are three so far) and I look forward to reading the others.