Grace Mae isn't like the other patients at Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston. Her stay will last exactly nine months and once the embarrassment she's afflicted with has passed, she'll be released back to her upper crust family. But Grace doesn't want to go home. Not to the man who put her in Wayburne to begin with. And when an outburst lands her in the Wayburne basement she meets a man who can offer her an alternative.
Thornhollow recognizes a cleverness in Grace that he knows can be used to his advantage. With a new post in Ohio and the chance to investigate criminals by the crimes they commit, he wants Grace by his side to help. And so he smuggles her out of Wayburne under the guise of having performed an accidental lobotomy - something both Grace and Thornhollow know the director would never want Grace's powerful father to discover.
For the first time in her life, Grace experiences a freedom she never could have imagined. She has friends, she has a purpose, but she fears for the safety of her sister back home. What's more, Grace begins to feel a strong connection to the victims she and Thornhollow are investigating. Determined that they should be vindicated, she finds herself immersed in unmasking a criminal who pushes her to the very brink.
I did not actually read what A Madness So Discreet was about before diving in - at least nothing past the point of realizing it was set in an insane asylum. I don't know what it is that draws so many of us to this setting (and boarding schools?!) but it's one that lands pretty much anything based around it in my TBR no matter what.
Course McGinnis would have been there anyway due to the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed both of her previous books.
Anyway, my point is that I actually didn't know what to expect and found that it made A Madness So Discreet that much more fabulous.
Grace and Thornhollow are great leads. Grace isn't afraid to defend herself, not after what's happened to her. That simple act, though, is what lands her in further hot water. Because everyone knows a good girl would be docile and just take whatever's given to her, right? To that end, it's easy to get behind her!
Thornhollow is supposed to be a bit odd - going out of his way to avoid society and marriage. I'm not sure if there's more there or not, he was the only thing I felt wasn't fully developed satisfactorily. And maybe that's because I'm looking at it from today's perspective. After all, what's wrong with a man who lives for work and doesn't want to settle down? My guess is that that was just as bad in the 1800s as a woman who spoke her mind or, as is the case with one of Grace's friends, simply gets in her husband's way.
Beyond the injustices of mental health care in the nineteenth century (of which there is plenty in A Madness So Discreet), there is also a mystery aspect. One of the cases Thornhollow and Grace are investigating turns out to be much larger than originally suspected. Think a bit CSI Victorian style! But there's even more to the tale. Grace also must face down her personal demons. To say anything more would be to say too much, so I'll leave it at that.
A Madness So Discreet is, quite frankly, fantastic. It hit all the perfect notes for a great read and I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve next! (I would love to see Thornhollow and Grace investigate more crimes, too!)