Thursday, July 20, 2017

Audiobook Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 376
Add to Goodreads

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us. 

Grace does not speak. She has locked her voice away since the day she was sent to a Boston insane asylum as a way to hide her during her pregnancy. When her life at the asylum takes a turn for the worse, she is lucky enough to meet a doctor who recognizes her keen mind and astute observation. He helps her escape to a safer asylum where she can serve as his assistant under the cover of darkness. Grace finds a new purpose in her life, and as the family secrets surrounding her initial entry into the asylum are revealed, she finally finds peace.

Oh my goodness, I did not like this book. I started listening to it without knowing anything about the plot, but I don't think reading the synopsis would have made any difference. The synopsis and the cover of the book make it appear pretty awesome, but in reality it is a jumble of random plot lines that don't fit together. There were many aspects of this book that could have been really interesting if they had been developed properly. Unfortunately, they were not and the book really suffered.

There were two main themes or storylines in A Madness So Discreet - a girl with a troubled past and family secrets, and a girl with a secret life of solving crime. Both could be very interesting, but the transitions between them were sloppy and didn't work. It felt like the author had two different ideas and smushed them into one book instead of developing either one as it deserved.

The criminal psychology aspect of the book was really interesting, actually. The descriptions were dark and sometimes even disgusting and disturbing. I wish the entire book had been just about the crime solving, because it would have been so much more interesting and engaging. Unfortunately, it was mashed in between another plot line that didn't fit.

The conclusion of the book also felt misplaced. It didn't have much to do with the majority of the story and seemed to come out of nowhere. After following the crime solving plot line for 90% of the book, it suddenly jumped to Grace's family secrets for the conclusion and the switch was jarring. This switch could potentially have worked if the two narratives had been woven together more seamlessly throughout the novel, but instead there were swift jumps between plot lines.

Ultimately, the only reason I finished this book was so that I could write a comprehensive review. (And because I could listen to it at two times normal speed so it only took a few hours.) This book felt mashed together and unplanned and unfortunately, it has deterred me from picking up other books by this author. It's such a shame that the cover and description for the book are so misleading. This is a case of judging a book by its cover gone wrong, because the inside did not match the outside at all.