Madness by T.M. Raymond
Madness, by T.M. Raymond, is the second book in his No Sin mystery series. Set in the late twenties, the book begins as Zephyr Davies and his friend No Sin, a young Chinese man, return to the United States on the ship the Malolo, after a series of misadventures in China. Zephyr is not looking forward to settling into an office job, and No Sin is worried about being admitted to the U.S. as a citizen. Their worries are interrupted by a mysterious death on board, as Huey “Hatman” Arnold disappears without a trace from a cabin seemingly locked from the inside. Even more alarming, Zephyr finds his address with the accusation “Pervert” written in blood inside the missing man’s cabin. After Zephyr’s return to the states, his foray into the world of business is blessedly and unsurprisingly short, and he soon returns to his role as detective, helping Mr. Kaneshiro investigate an industrialist named Horace Willows, who seeks to encourage a war between Japan and China. Zephyr considers Willows a “spoiled, arrogant capitalist…a man who lazily wreaked havoc on the lives of those in his wake, simply because he could afford to.” At the same time, Zephyr tries to locate his old flame, Monica Marshall, who just might be trying to kill him.
Madness is a complicated story, with a series of riveting twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged from beginning to end. Raymond seeks to not only write a thriller, but also to engage with the widespread racism against Asians during this period in history. In this way, Madness offers something for both fans of mysteries and historical fiction. Both Raymond’s plot and writing are solid, although there are some occasional instances of overly florid description and some jarring, awkward language (such as partaked instead of partook) but these are minor issues. Madness is a good read, and fans will be glad to know there is more to come in this series.
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