2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
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Book Review: The Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

This is one of my all-time favorite Holmes spin-off series. In Laurie R. King’s oh-so-capable hands, the Great Detective is handled brilliantly – and his wife and co-conspirator, Mary Russell, is one of my favorite heroines in fiction. She is sassy, brilliant, and holds her own more than admirably as she matches – and shares – wits with her husband, Sherlock Holmes. It is extra impressive that King has managed to run this series well into double-digit books with so few missteps (the Pirate book aside) and with so many original and unique mysteries that cross so many borders (thematically, sociologically, geopolitically) and are consistently so entertaining.

This latest installment takes us from England to Venice, and the social and political issues (homosexuality, the role of women in society, the rise of Fascism) are as wide-ranging as the geography. King has a remarkable gift for bringing history to life amidst a character-driven mystery, and her touch is as deft here as it always is. The supporting cast includes a blend of new and old faces (as is typical), and – as is also typical for King but rarely typical in fiction, to my taste – includes a blend of historical and famous figures that are as organically well-placed within the story as any other characters. The plot is a marvelous blend of action, adventure, character study, and pure entertainment, and King’s writing style is – as always – engaging, drawing the reader in from the opening pages. The humor and sly wit are Holmesian in all the best possible meanings of the word – particularly when they come from the deliciously droll Mary Russell.

If you aren’t familiar with the series, you really should pick it up – it’s one of the best in this area.

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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