Island of the Mad
by King, Laurie R.

When a friend's mentally unstable aunt goes missing along with a cache of jewels, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes follow leads to a 1925 Venice shaped by Mussolini's Blackshirts, the gilded Lido set and the music of Cole Porter.

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris, and the acclaimed standalones Lockdown, A Darker Place, Folly, Califia’s Daughters (written under the pen name Leigh Richards), and Keeping Watch. She lives on California’s Central Coast.

The saga of Sherlock Holmes and his young wife, Mary Russell, continues. It is 1925, and Mary and Holmes are looking forward to some downtime after the shocking revelations in the previous book, The Murder of Mary Russell (2016). Then Mary receives a call from an old friend, detailing how her Aunt Vivian has disappeared after a visit home from Bedlam, the asylum where she's been living, despite questions about her mental state. The hunt takes the sleuthing couple to Venice, where the glittering parties are juxtaposed against the uneasy Italian political situation, now that Mussolini and his Blackshirts have come into power. This is not one of the pivotal books in Russell's saga-there is little about her compelling backstory here-and, as a mystery, it's more glamour than grit, with the answer to the book's central question apparent to readers before Russell figures it out. But 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. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, seek a friend's missing relative in the most unlikely places. The year 1925 finds Veronica Fitzwarren's aunt, Lady Vivian Beaconsfield, still resident in Bedlam, where she's been clapped up for years and years. But things are about to change. Released for a week's home leave for the 50th birthday of her half brother, Edward, Lord Selwick, Vivian goes AWOL on the way back to the asylum along with Rose Trevisan, her nurse. When Ronnie begs her old Oxford friend Russell to find her missing relative, Russell thinks the best way to gather information will be to get herself committed to Bedlam. She doesn't find Vivian there, of course, but she does turn up enough information to send her haring off to Venice, where Mycroft Holmes just happens to want to send his brother on still another hush-hush diplomatic errand. The food, the wine, the location are all superb, and soon Russell and Holmes have insinuated themselves into the social cir cles of legendary columnist/hostess Elsa Maxwell and nonpareil songwriter Cole Porter. A gander at the locked asylum on the island of San Clemente convinces Russell (Mary Russell's War, 2016, etc.) that she's very close to finding Vivian, whose tenancy in Bedlam turns out to have been voluntary for the past few years, and she's quite correct. But her most shocking discoveries come both after she's finally caught up with the missing woman and well beforehand, in an obsequious scene between the Porters and a military emissary of Il Duce that suddenly turns ugly. Precious little for Sherlock Holmes to do, and not much more for his wife, not even in the way of King's trademark dialogue between the two. Come for the mystery, stay for the sightseeing, the gibes at fascism, and the heroine's climactic masquerade as silent film star Harold Lloyd. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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