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Island of the Mad (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #15)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,230 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are back in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called "the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today."

A June summer's evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend's beloved aunt has failed to return follo
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Bantam
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Lisa Riggs Yes, you are really going to want to start at the beginning of this series. There is so much backstory going on throughout that to really get a feel…moreYes, you are really going to want to start at the beginning of this series. There is so much backstory going on throughout that to really get a feel of the characters you need to start fresh. (less)
Lisa Riggs I think people love the author and series so much that they automatically give it a full rating but I think it is totally dishonest because it doesn't…moreI think people love the author and series so much that they automatically give it a full rating but I think it is totally dishonest because it doesn't help new readers to the series. This is one of my favorite series but I don't love all the books.(less)

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Diane S ☔
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 One would think that a series featuring Sherlock Holmes would be outstanding and difficult to solve mysteries. While at the heart there always is intrigue or another, in this case a missing wealthy woman, but this is a series that those who don't read mysteries. They are so much more, some well researched history, in this case the Fascists in Italy and the rise of Mussolini. They are travelogues, here we travel to Venice where Holmes will put together a team of irregulars as usual, but here ...more
Jen 3_Piets
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to mark this down as my most anticipated book of 2018. There will be other new releases, but if I’m going to have a sick day and go into hiding in the local library, it will be the day the new Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes book arrives on my Kindle. The anticipation won’t kill be but only because I’m sooo excited to read a new one!!
Sabrina Flynn
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Whenever I read a book in this series, it feels like coming home. I loved Island of the Mad. Holmes and Russell spent quite a bit of time together in the book, and there was a very big nod to Nelly Bly—a female stunt reporter/investigative journalist in the late 1800s.
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I have to admit that having Mary Russell's old friend Veronica Beaconsfield making an appearance in this book brought back a lot of fond memories from the earlier books. Yeah, I got nostalgic and all remembering Mary and Veronica's school days not to mention the religious sect "The New Temple of God" that Veronica was involved with that turned out to be quite an adventure for Mary.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

As Mary searches 1925 Venice for the missing (and insane) aunt of one of her best friends, and hangs out with the Bright Young Things on the beaches of the Lido, Sherlock Holmes watches the fascists (on a suggestion from his brother), and gets a little help from Cole Porter.

A fun installment in the series.
In Island of the Mad, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes conduct their investigations in Venice which is under the rule of Mussolini. I received a digital ARC from the publisher via Net Galley and this is my honest review.

For Mary Russell, this is a missing person case that begins in England. She is searching for a college friend's aunt who had been consigned to Bedlam. Holmes accompanies Russell, but he is on a mission for his brother, Mycroft. Holmes' investigation brings an espionage element in
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
4.5 stars; I wouldn't call it "amazing" necessarily, but certainly great fun and a delightful return to form for Ms. King. Good mystery, great current events, the rich travelogue we've come to expect from this series, all painstakingly researched and with notes in the back - and Holmes and Russell, back at their best.

I particularly appreciate the history in this volume, as it is frighteningly relevant again today. I also appreciate the lightness and exuberance of the story - anything darker migh
Linda Baker
It's 1925, and Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are still recovering from the events of The Murder Of Mary Russell and the loss of their longtime friend and housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. Her departure forces Russell to undertake domestic duties with frustrating and less than stellar results. One evening Russell receives a call that will upturn their lives and take them into the fledgling fascist state taking shape in Italy. Her friend Ronnie Beaconsfield's aunt Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has disappear ...more
A visit with Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell is one of my favorite ways to spend time. Since falling in love with this series with its first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie King has never failed to give me a tale that keeps that love burning. Two people of such spectacular problem-solving intelligence and consistently delightful wit as Russell and Holmes are rare and, thus, all the more special. In Island of the Mad, #15 in the series, I'm thrilled that Russell and Holmes are working t ...more
Mary Ann
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Not the best Russell/Holmes, but far from the worst. That distinction belongs to Pirate King, the only real stinker in the series and the only one of Laurie R. King's many novels to which I've given a 2-star rating. The backdrop of this one is mid-1920s Venice (think Brideshead Revisited), an intriguing city and so unlike any other in Italy. Mary's old Oxford friend, Lady Veronica Beaconsfield (Beekeper's Apprentice and Monstrous Regiment of Women), now Fitzwarren, reappears along with her young ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, historical, mystery, vbc
Another great entry in the Mary Russell series! With much of the book focused on experiencing a new place that has personal meaning for Russell (Venice!) and becoming the right character for the investigation, it hearkened back a bit to some of my favorite parts of The Game and O Jerusalem. Maybe a touch less danger to Russell and Holmes than some of the earlier books. And I always love when we get to see characters that are old friends again.

If you are already a fan of the series, you will love
Barb in Maryland
Ahh, this is more like it. (I was not a big fan of the previous book which featured Mrs Hudson).
Mary and Sherlock head for Venice, each on a case. Mary is doing a favor for a dear friend--trying to find the friend's aunt Vivian(who may have mental health problems). Mary believes Vivian to be in Venice, but how to find her? There's where it get tricky.
Meanwhile, Sherlock is doing a bit of observation for his brother Mycroft--keeping as eye on Mussolini's Fascist Blackshirts--as well as giving an
A tricky enquiry!

Not only but also! An absorbing investigation by Mary and Sherlock that takes us from Bedlam to the Lido and onto the Venetian asylum island of Poveglia.
What a fabulous conondrum for the wonderful Mary Russell and her ever fascinating husband Sherlock Holmes. Mary is asked by an old friend to find out about her aunt Vivian Beaconsfield who seems to have absconded from Bedlam along with some family jewels. The whole family seems cowered by Vivian's brother the Marquess of Selwick
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Island of the Mad takes Mary Russel and Holmes to Venice, when Mary is asked to find the aunt of an old friend. I love the relationship between Mary and Holmes - they are truly partners, both resourceful and intelligent. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book (besides the mystery itself) was the historical setting. From Bedlam, to Mussolini, to Cole Porter, it was fun to see the slices of history interspersed with the story, and I got interesting enough in some of them to do some resea ...more
Cat M
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I love these characters so much and am always thrilled to come back to this series.

Once again, King manages a nice balance between serious topics and madcap adventures, keeping the arc of the story hopeful, but never diminishing or dismissing the darkness underneath.

And there is darkness here. The background is the rise of fascism in Europe: the first inklings of flirtation in England, and then the reality of Italy under Mussolini.

In England, a friend of Mary’s comes to her for help. Her aunt Vi
I won a copy of Island of the Mad from a Goodreads Giveaway.

I confess I was lured mainly by the dark title and intrigued to read it since this is my first Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes story. I didn't know what to expect so I went in with an open mind.

Mary Russell's college friend's great aunt Lady Vivian has absconded with the family jewels with her caretaker.

Mary agrees to take on the case, interviewing associates and family members of this once vibrant young woman who has spent several
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked much of the story. It was fascinating, mysterious, and held some nice twists. Russell's university friend Veronica's aunt has been in and out of mental institutions for the last decade or so, and then she suddenly disappears, so Veronica asks Russell to look for her aunt. Russell and Holmes follow her trail to Venice, which has just come under the rule of Mussolini and the fascists, and all the historical details were awesome. They end up rubbing elbows with people like Cole Porter, so t ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Island Of The Mad
Laurie R. King

What it's all about...

Mary Russell is now married to Sherlock Holmes. In this book Russell...and then Sherlock...are searching to find an old friend’s aunt. This takes Russell and Sherlock to Venice and gets them in some strange and complicated situations. It’s the era of Fascism, Black Shirts and Cole Porter! It’s an era of hiding your true sexuality...especially if you happen to be gay.

Why I wanted to read it...

There are so many of these Russell/Holmes books t
Island of the Mad is a good story and I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't love it. Before this book came available at the library I'd started rereading O Jerusalem, one of my favorites, and the contrast between the two is pretty strong. Jerusalem has Mary and Sherlock in a difficult, sometimes life-threatening, situation. They have to depend on others who may not be trustworthy, and the stakes are quite high if they don't succeed - possibly another World War. Also, because it is Mary's first visi ...more
Kathy Martin
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary gets a phone call from a college friend which sends her off on her next case. Ronnie Beaconsfield Fitzwarren is concerned about her Aunt Vivian who has disappeared. Vivian has spent years in and out of asylums, most recently Bedlam for a series of mental health issues. Mary met her once when she accompanied Ronnie and her new baby son to Bedlam to show him off to her aunt.

Apparently, she and a nurse got a weekend pass to visit her older brother Edward, Marquess of Selwick, on the occasion
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great addition to the Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes stories. A missing crazy heiress, Venice, Mussolini's Black Shirts, Cole Porter and Elsa Maxwell, what could be more fun.
The life in the Roaring Twenties can seem like a mad, mad world, but their latest case brings Russell and Holmes face to face with the truly mad, the dangerously ignorant, and a hard look at their own eccentric life.

Island of the Mad is the fifteenth installment in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. The books are strong on suspense, but also follow closely with global and personal historical events for the main characters so they must be read in order.

In the latest, Mary and Holmes are
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summary (from
A June summer’s evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend’s beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks—with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes—Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can’t say no.
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, _netgalley
The plot of this book revolves around the search for Lady Vivian Beaconsfield, the young aunt of Mary Russell's college friend Ronnie). Specifically, Lady Vivian has gone missing from (sorta) Bedlam. She's spent most of her adult life in various mental institutions, at first against her will and then eventually by choice (of a sort) because it is where she is safe.

As per usual, Laurie R. King weaves together a few distinct threads into one story. In Island of the Mad we've got mental institutio
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this new installment of the Mary Russell series. Laurie R. King hit the nail on the head with this book, and I loved every minute of it. A friend's missing aunt, Venice in the 1920s, the rise of Mussolini and Fascism in Italy (something my own ancestors fled to America from) - all the ingredients you need to make quite the page turner when you add the vital mixture that is Russell and Holmes.

I completely loved the tone of this story, light with the perfect dash of darkness tha
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a pleasure to be introduced to Mary Russell. This is my first book of the series and I've enjoyed the fun detective.

The story begins with the disappearance of Lady Vivian Beaconsfield, an aunt of Mary's close friend, Ronnie. After looking into Lady Vivian's history, Mary uncovers a secret that her friend's aunt has been hiding for most of her adult life. And the last piece of information gives Mary an approximate whereabouts of Lady Vivian. Not wasting any time, Russell is off to Italy, a
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love historical mysteries and Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are must haves on my list. Island of the Mad is another winner. The time is 1925 and Russell and Holmes need a break, to find peace and quiet. That won't happen because the aunt of a friend has gone missing from Bedlam, the insane asylum. The lady in question has spent many years institutionalized and, at the time of her disappearance, she was attending a family event in the company of her nurse. Why did she leave and where did she ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this installment very much. Mary and Sherlock spend a lot of time together and demonstrate both affection and respect for each other. Although it's never mushy, you can see their devotion if you read between the lines. There is a welcome return to her featuring real-life famous people (or famous fictional people!) in her plots. This time it is Cole Porter and his wife, Linda and also Elsa Maxwell. I love the way she places the sleuths in interesting and important historical places and ti ...more
Tony Hisgett
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall this was an interesting and well-written story that was a pleasure to read.
The book begins with Mary trying to find Lady Vivian, the aunt of friend who seems to have absconded from Bedlam.
The plot was developing quite nicely then Mary decides she is going to have herself committed to Bedlam. I couldn’t believe the author resorted to this storyline, fortunately she didn’t dwell on this and the story quickly moved on to Venice, where May and Holmes follow different routes to explain and s
Ellen Kirschman
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Set in 1920's Venice, Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes' younger and brighter wife, romp with political thugs, party-going elites, the composer Cole Porter and other fascinating characters as they search for a missing woman who has escaped from a mental hospital. Lots to love about this book, most especially Mary and Sherlock's relationship and King's exquisitely detailed description of Venice as it tilts toward Facism.
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
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King's 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshir
More about Laurie R. King

Other books in the series

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1)
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2)
  • A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3)
  • The Moor (Mary Russell, #4)
  • O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
  • The Game (Mary Russell, #7)
  • Locked Rooms (Mary Russell, #8)
  • The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)
  • The God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)
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