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Island of the Mad

Island of the Mad

A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

by Laurie R. King

Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine


Historical Fiction , Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 12 Jun 2018


Normally I enjoy Holmesian fiction, but I had mixed feelings about Island of the Mad. On the one hand, it is a well plotted mystery filled with interesting subplots, on the other hand, it is not really what I would define as Holmesian. Holmes plays a much smaller role than Mary Russell, and his character is less developed, relying on the reader’s knowledge of Sherlock Holmes and imagination to fill in the gaps left by the author. I’m inclined to believe that the novel would be better with a more developed character in the place of Holmes, or greater effort placed on making the reader truly believe Holmes would be there in that position.

Island of the Mad addresses the mistreatment of women who don’t fit, either by nature or by choice, as well as the rise of fascism in Italy, both topics of pertinence today. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Island of the Mad. It is simply that the inclusion of Holmes didn’t ring true and distracted me from an otherwise good story.

3 / 5 (4 if you disregard the Holmes issue)

I received a copy of Island of the Mad from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.



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.

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