Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King


I’m always thrilled when Net Galley offers a title in a series that I enjoy. Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell’s series are mysteries that feature the young, intelligent wife of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes plays his part, Russell is the protagonist. They are cleverly plotted and I always find I learn a little something while reading them.

This latest one takes place in Venice. Holmes and Russell have gone there seeking a missing aunt of a friend. There are LOTS of themes in this book – women’s roles, depression and mental health, sexual abuse, sexuality, treatment in hospitals, rise of fascism, etc. I found it all rather compelling and fascinating. Adding to the mix were real characters, like Cole Porter and his wife Linda, along with Mussolini. I think this is my favorite Mary Russell mystery yet.

This would be a great book club book as there is much to discuss, too.

Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

From Amazon:

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.

Review: THE MURDER OF MARY RUSSELL by Laurie R. King


I adore the writings of Laurie R. King, and I particularly love her Mary Russell books, featuring the young, talented wife of Sherlock Holmes (yes- the woman behind the man). When I saw this come up on Net Galley I was so excited, but then seeing the title gave me a near heart attack. Murder? Pray tell, what could Mary have gotten herself into now?

Here’s the description from Net Galley:




When I saw DREAMING SPIES come up on Net Galley, I thought it looked like something I’d enjoy: Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell, solving mysteries. I am not sure how I’ve missed this series as I’m a HUGE Holmes fan. Of course just about everyone is a fan of the new series with Benedict, and I enjoy it, but I’m a Holmes fan from way back. I’ve read all Conan Doyle’s stories numerous times (there aren’t a ton) and I love love loved the PBS series with Jeremy Brett. He was just the perfect Holmes to me. So what fun to find a whole series of stories that are about Holmes and his wife — who is obviously created for this series if you know Holmes – the intelligent and intrepid Mary Russell.

In this story, the time line moves back and forth, from a mystery worked on a few years earlier in Japan to the present (1920’s) in Oxford, England. Holmes and Russell were traveling aboard a cruise ship to Japan when they met a pleasant young woman, Sato, who offers to help educate the crew in the culture and manners of Japan. It turns out that she is a ninja, from a family of ninjas, and she needs their help. A book was given by their Emperor to the King of England as a gift, but it has something tucked inside it which must not be seen. Now the Emperor is being blackmailed in order for him to get the book back.

The storyline takes place in basically three locales: aboard the ship, in Japan, back in England. Ms. King has filled her novel with interesting details about life and the culture in Japan in the 1920’s. Having just taken a cruise last summer, I found the cruise ship part interesting, though I think our Disney Magic was more comfortable than Holmes’ and Russell’s ship!

I have to be honest, I did fear that I would start to read this book and Holmes would not seem like Holmes to me; or Mary would seem anachronistic, or something else would happen that would make me feel it was an absurd attempt to incorporate this iconic character into something new (remember I didn’t read the whole series or even know about it until afterwards). I was not disappointed. Holmes behaved just like Holmes should. Mary is front and center, but that is no surprise as this is somewhat her series. Stylistically, the writing was what I would expect from a classic British mystery. All in all, I just loved it!

For a few more days, I’m running a giveaway:

You can see this book at an indie near you — check out the whole series! (I am an indie bound affiliate) and thank you, Net Galley, for my ARC!:

Find it at an Indie!



Publishing on the 17th, is this fun book which I loved (review coming on Feb. 14).

DREAMING SPIES is the latest in the series of mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell.

Here’s a book trailer via You Tube:

I’ve been sent a beautiful hard cover copy from Random House marketing to give to a winner.

To enter, please leave a comment and also let me know how to contact you if you are the winner.

I’m afraid it has to be US only since I’m footing the bill for shipping.

I will use to choose a winner.

Giveaway will be open until 12:01 am 2/21/15. One entry person.


Laurie R. King has a series of books about Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell as they solve various mysteries. I read the latest one (review coming soon – closer to Pub Day in February) last week and just loved it! If you know me, you know I’m a HUGE Holmes fan, and I really liked the addition of a younger, intelligent wife to his story.

DREAMING SPIES is the title of the upcoming novel (a take, I believe, on “dreaming spires of Oxford” as the story takes place in part there). Random House is hosting a fabu giveaway of a mini iPad with ALL Laurie’s books loaded onto it, included this latest title. There are other prizes as well!

You can see the giveaway here:

Good luck — entering is just elementary! (okay – I had to say that!!)