by Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #15
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called "the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today."
A June summer's evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend's beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks--with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes--Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can't say no.
The Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, yet he seemed to be improving--or at least, finding a point of balance in her madness. So why did she disappear? Did she take the family's jewels with her, or did someone else? The Bedlam nurse, perhaps?
The trail leads Russell and Holmes through Bedlam's stony halls to the warm Venice lagoon, where ethereal beauty is jarred by Mussolini's Blackshirts, where the gilded Lido set may be tempting a madwoman, and where Cole Porter sits at a piano, playing with ideas...
Give a warm welcome to Sophia Rose, who is here today sharing the Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King. Come see what Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are up to as they work to solve another mystery.
Sophia Rose’s Review
The life in the Roaring Twenties can seem like a mad, mad world, but their latest case brings Russell and Holmes face to face with the truly mad, the dangerously ignorant, and a hard look at their own eccentric life.
Island of the Mad is the fifteenth installment in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. The books are strong on suspense, but also follow closely with global and personal historical events for the main characters so they must be read in order.
In the latest, Mary and Holmes are just settling back into their life in Sussex after a string of daring cases when a phone call from an old friend has them back in action once again. Ronnie’s eccentric, mad aunt has gone missing along with her nurse and a stash of jewels. Was it voluntary or something much more sinister and if it was voluntary, is it a good idea to have a woman from a madhouse loose?
Starting from the beginning has Mary investigating the inside of Bedlam and confronting both the mad and the current day treatment of the mad along with her journey to the ancestral home to discover if the answer lies within the family to Lady Vivian’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Mycroft wants Holmes to look into the disturbing reports about the Fascists in Italy under Il Duce, Mussolini. Mary worries that Holmes is getting too old for this sort of thing and Holmes worries that he may just be too old for his own wife. The case takes them across the continent to Venice where Holmes and Mary are faced with some of the wealthiest and powerful ‘bright young things’ drinking and partying in the palazzos and waterways of Venice. I confess that Sherlock Holmes and his violin and Cole Porter on his piano in a few jam sessions was probably my favorite scenes in the book.
Island of the Mad presents a good mystery, but leans just as heavily toward historical fiction the way it delves into the activities, thinking, and social mores of the day from those on the lunatic fringe, to those put away for madness, to the powerful and growing Fascist movement, women’s issues, homosexuality, and the darkness that can drive a person to seek asylum in a madhouse. Russell and Holmes take turns with the narration and both ponder on all these things.
There were some thrilling moments as Russell and Holmes worked the case and a mystery, but this was tucked in with so much more that I think those who enjoy fiction set in the Roaring Twenties are as likely to love this as mystery fans. As always, I was well-pleased to get another installment in a long-time favorite series. The author has carefully preserved the spirit of the Sherlock Holmes world from the beginning and keeps it authentic even into these stories that explore his later years and the clever and resourceful young woman who is his partner in every way. Definitely, recommend the series to Sherlock fans and to historical mystery lovers.Sophia Rose has stopped by to share her thoughts on Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King. Come see what Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes have been up to. Click To Tweet
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