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Grace has an absolutely brilliant mind and an eye for detail. She knows terrible family secrets and has been shipped off to a brutal Boston insane asylum until the bulge in her belly is gone in nine months time. The only way she can deal with her situation is to shut down her mind and lock away her voice, but when it returns in a fit of violence she is relegated to the cellar where all of the worst patients are held. While down there she is discovered by a visiting doctor who also dabbles in the new techniques of criminal psychology, and he realizes she could potentially make a good assistant in the field. This doctor and a fellow patient help her escape with him to his ethical Ohio asylum, a place where she feels hope for the first time in a while and the hint of a life she could have had. While still considered "mad", she uses her position to be the doctor's eyes and ears while assisting him at crime scenes. They soon find themselves on the trail of a serial killer who preys on young women, and Grace soon realizes she'll have to face personal demons if she wants to stay sane.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis is a fantastic historical thriller. I love the fact that it's mostly set in my home state of Ohio. The progressive Ohio asylum that Grace goes to is pretty heavily based on the real Athens Lunatic Asylum in Athens, Ohio which is now part of Ohio University. Aside from setting, I greatly enjoyed getting to know our characters, Grace Mae especially. She is an interesting lead. She has very little personal agency, at first, to change the hand she's been dealt. She needs to rely heavily on others to ensure her safety and sanity. However, as she faces her demons and thinks of those who mean the world to her, as well on take on an entirely new role that suits her mind, she grows into herself and finds she's able to do what she never would have considered possible.
Overall, A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis comes with recommendations from me. This compellingly written, dark historical thriller is a must read of the season. If you like Sherlock and American Horror Story: Asylum, you will not want to miss this new novel.
I read this novel from November 4 - 9, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.