Island of the Mad

Island of the Mad

A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Book - 2018
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Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in Laurie R. King's New York Times bestselling series--"the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today" (Lee Child).

With Mrs. Hudson gone from their lives and domestic chaos building, the last thing Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, need is to help an old friend with her mad and missing aunt.

Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, since the loss of her brother and father in the Great War. And although her mental state seemed to be improving, she's now disappeared after an outing from Bethlem Royal Hospital . . . better known as Bedlam.

Russell wants nothing to do with the case--but she can't say no. And at least it will get her away from the challenges of housework and back to the familiar business of investigation. To track down the vanished woman, she brings to the fore her deductive instincts and talent for subterfuge--and of course enlists her husband's legendary prowess. Together, Russell and Holmes travel from the grim confines of Bedlam to the winding canals and sun-drenched Lido cabarets of Venice--only to find the foreboding shadow of Benito Mussolini darkening the fate of a city, an era, and a tormented English lady of privilege.

Praise for Island of the Mad

"Superb . . . shocking . . . Come for the mystery, stay for the sightseeing, the gibes at fascism, and the heroine's climactic masquerade as silent film star Harold Lloyd." -- Kirkus Reviews

"[Laurie R.] King's storytelling is always a pleasure, full of lush details and clever twists. Cole Porter, who is an integral part of the book's LGBTQ story line, adds an unexpected and welcome star turn." -- Booklist

"Well-plotted . . . This ranks as one of the better recent installments in this popular series." -- Publishers Weekly
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780804177962
Branch Call Number: FIC KING
Characteristics: 306 pages : map ; 25 cm.


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Oct 28, 2018

I wasn't as impressed with this latest novel as I have been with others. I felt it started well and then got bogged down in Venice.

Sep 30, 2018

Another great Mary Russell mystery! In this Mary Russell has to find a woman who has been confined to a mental institution. Her search takes her and Sherlock Holmes to Venice. Of course, Venice is no match for these two indominable detectives. Not only was I caught up in the story but I leaned a lot about Venice after World War I.

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

Island of the Mad is one of the most cohesive and well-plotted entries in King's series full of gems. Russell is asked to look into the disappearance of her friend Ronnie's aunt. From the hallways of Bedlam to the Cole Porter's rented Venetian Palazzo, the couple use their wits, and their street informants to find out the truth. King takes another look at the sexism and political upheaval of the time.
In the Acknowledgements she writes, "...Christine Gregorin (found at swept me from one end of the city to the other, talking politics and history. Not that this book is about politics: no, not at all." It's safe to say that the previous statement is sarcasm at its finest. And if one reads passages such as: "If one plays on fear, takes away any remotely complicated ideas, and offers people a sense of confidence and right, one's followers will beat to death any enemy they are pointed at," and thinks that, just maybe, King is taking a swipe at the current political landscape, I don't think he or she would be far off. But whether you are interested in political allegories or are just looking for a fast-paced adventure, this episode of Russell and Holmes is not to be missed.

Aug 14, 2018

Mary Russell and husband Sherlock Holmes think they might have a few weeks' peace together, when one of Mary's oldest friends, Veronica, calls with an emergency. Her "mad" aunt, Lady Vivian Fitzwarren, whom Mary's met only once, has gone missing, along with her nurse, from London's Bedlam Hospital. Ronnie can't hunt Vivian, being tied down with a 3 yr old, so asks Russell to do so. They trace her to Venice. Holmes is asked by Mycroft to check out the city, as he's worried about the rise of Mussolini. The atmosphere is wonderfully drawn, as are the fictitious uses of Elsa Maxwell and the Cole Porters and their crowds, with the Blackshirts trying to throw cold water on any kind of fun. Mary's concern in the story of Vivian and the nurse is to make sure she's safe and making her own decisions. She is, but she's also in danger from her brother, a Fascist supporter who has been at the root of her "madness" all along. Well plotted. My only quibble is that this book doesn't allow Russell and Holmes to spend as much time together as usual. They're the most fun when they're striking sparks off each other, and that doesn't happen enough here. The book lost stars for that, in my book.

Aug 09, 2018

I enjoyed this book, mostly for its descriptions of Venice and well-research historical content, with ominous background to Mussolini's rise and the Fascist influence. The mystery "caught" my attention less than most of the past books but both the mystery and the historical references are apropos to our current time.

Jul 10, 2018

4 1/2 stars is my rating

Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (2018) is an excellent addition to the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.

It is both a mystery and well-researched historical fiction; two well-woven stories of investigations by each main character. The story setting moves from England to Venice as it follows Mary's search for the Aunt of a friend who supposedly is mad, and who escaped from Bedlam asylum with her nurse- to Venice. The rise of Fascism after WW2, attitudes towards strong independent women living at the time (commitment to the asylum, theft of property, being hunted as a criminal, not being believed when reporting on her evil brother responsible for all of this) seem timely topics. Mary Russell herself is intelligent, strong, resourceful, admirable.
This book gives conclusions to to story that give the readers a sigh of relief and makes the reader look forward to more books in this series.

Nancy G

Jun 24, 2018

Excellent. Blackshirts are taking over Venice as Mary and Sherlock search for a young heiress who fled from a greedy uncle, who kept her locked up in an English insane asylum. I felt this was well up to the earlier volumes of the series... I agree that some of the the last few were not so hot, but I would unreservedly recommend Island of the Mad. I especially liked the descriptions of the wild parties the "smart set" indulged in as WWII crept up on them. Elsa Maxwell appears, and Cole Porter... and who knew Mary Russell introduced water skiing to Europe?

Jun 19, 2018

Not as entertaining as the previous entries in this series, which overall have been enjoyable and fascinating. It was a great premise to have Sherlock Holmes marry, but the novelty may be wearing off.


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PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

From the Acknowledgements: "And guide Christine Gregorin (found at swept me from one end of the city to the other, talking politics and history. Not that this book is about politics: no, not at all."

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

"I was of course familiar with Dr. Freud's theory, that a claim of incest reveals the sex fantasies of an hysteric. But 'hysterical' is the modern's cry of witchcraft, its punishment incarceration instead of burning."

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

"And a few months later, in January of this year, Benito Mussolini stood before his nation to declare himself absolute ruler of his country, and to take proud responsibility for the violence that ha put him there. As he put it, 'Italy wants peace and quiet, work and calm. I will give it these things - with love if possible, with force if necessary.'

The trains would run on time.

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

"If one plays on fear, takes away any remotely complicated ideas, and offers people a sense of confidence and right, one's followers will beat to death any enemy they are pointed at."

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

" well as a rumour Mycroft had heard of an invention called 'radiovision' i America, which both men agreed sounded like a pipe dream."

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 07, 2018

"My habit was to remind myself that some men never got over the handicap of not being women,, and keep my mouth in a tight-lipped smile."

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