Review: Island of the Mad

Island of the Mad

Author: Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
2018
ISBN #978-0804177962

 Island of the Mad cover

I absolutely adore all of Ms. King’s books, but her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series is my favorite! “Island of the Mad” does not disappoint! I am not thrilled that Mrs. Hudson is taking a “side-trip”, but she would not have been in this book anyway, as it features Holmes and Russell in lovely Venice.

Russell has been asked by a friend to find her Aunt, while Holmes has been asked by his brother Mycroft to “check into things” in Venice re Benito Mussolini and the rising Fascist movement. Holmes is not quick to make that clear to Russell, however! We are looking at a post WW I, pre-WW II environment.

The missing Aunt, Lady Vivian Beaconsfield) by the way, has been in and out of insane asylums for many years. Her condition was said to have been brought on by the loss of her brother and father in the Great War – but is that really so? It is interesting to note that Lady Beaconsfield arranged to leave the asylum to attend her other brother’s birthday party, but she managed to disappear (after taking a large amount of money from her personal account, and having her brother get an expensive diamond necklace that is hers out of the vault). The nurse that was attending her has also conveniently disappeared!

Once in Venice the focus is on the Lido cabarets, wealthy, privileged individuals at play, and the ominous presence of the Fascist “Black Shirts”. Cole Porter, and a new (to Holmes) violin also come into play. There is also a strong LGBTQ theme, along with the rights of women – or rather, their lack of rights.

As always with Ms King, the characters are wonderfully bold, the storyline does not wander one iota, and the intensity of research shows through clearly. Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended!

© July 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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