A Case of Madness by Yvonne Knop

Andrew Thomas just got sacked. He's permanently drunk. He's got cancer. Is inescapably gay. Was hit by a bus. And he's fallen in love with a stranger whose life he saved. 

As a newly-unemployed Sherlock Holmes scholar, Andrew knows only Holmes can help him untangle the madness his life has become, but Holmes isn't real. Except he absolutely appeared in Andrew's house, told him he's in love with a man he just met…and then in a fit of pique Andrew sent him away. Sure Holmes is probably a hallucination or a specter or a ghost, but now Andrew desperately needs his help. So to find the answer to his case and the man of his dreams, Andrew takes to chasing a fictional character through London with his very own Watson.

COVER ARTIST: Ksenia Spizhevaya
PUBLISHER: Improbable Press
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 256 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Mystery, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s), Trans Secondary Character(s), Closeted/Questioning Main Character(s).

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

A CASE OF MADNESS opens with Andrew, Sherlock Holmes scholar, losing his job. This news would probably have hit him harder if he weren't already ignoring the possibility that he might have cancer. Soon after, he disrupts a gaybashing and is disoriented to find that the man he rescued wants to keep seeing him, despite having his own romantic complications. Tangling things further, the whole time Andrew is hallucinating Sherlock Holmes, unsure where this apparition lies along the possibilities of complete figment to plural alter. 

Haltingly, Andrew tilts from panic to panic, coming out as gay for the first time and starting to deal with things left unsaid from his past. While this is a romance, much of it focuses on Andrew trying to get his shit together so that he can be in a relationship at all. This happens by way of solving a case with the Sherlock Holmes in his head, where one crucial step is figuring out what the focus of the case actually is. 

While I would not want this level of stress from every book I read, I am very glad I read this one. My stress was largely from deeply relating to Andrew, even though his overlap with myself is small. When things go awry in real life, they can dissolve into stress and chaos through a series of unrelated terrible things that aren't causally connected, but happen all at once through terrible coincidences of timing. This is a feeling that good books rarely achieve, because of narrative constraints to keep all the bad things connected to the plot and maintaining some kind of purpose. A CASE OF MADNESS engenders a feeling of overwhelm in the reader, mimicking that which is felt by the protagonist in a way that feels closer to real life than most stories tend to manage, all without losing the plot.

Excellent and well worth reading!

Graphic/Explicit CW for cancer, homophobia, hate crime, mental illness, violence, suicide attempt.

Moderate CW for cursing, alcohol, drug use, toxic relationship, blood, terminal illness, car accident, medical content.

Minor CW for sexual content, vomit, ableism, fatphobia, body shaming, infidelity, eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, suicide, colonization.

Bookshop Affiliate Buy Link

Add this on TheStoryGraph

A red and blue quasi-silhouette of a man smoking a cigarette with several London landmarks in the background. Photos of Sherlock Holmes hand in the air above him.


Popular Posts