Book Review: A Case of Madness by Yvonne Knop

The thing that struck me first about A Case of Madness, debut novel by Yvonne Knop, was the voice of the protagonist and how it so perfectly reflected his personality, bringing the awkward, nerdy Andrew Thomas to life on the page.

For most of my teenage years, I questioned why I was so different from the others. Everyone else was colourful fruit salad, and I was the oatmeal.

Andrew Thomas, a Sherlock Holmes obsessed academic has just been fired. He is also going to die – whether from illness or his own hand is to be determined. Thomas is an old school conservative nerd by nature, but harbours a deep secret about his sexuality that he can’t even admit to his best friend Mina.

When asked to describe herself, she’s always quick to reply that she’s just like her favourite coffee: dark, bitter and too hot.

Free spirited, Pakistani Mina, whom Thomas describes as a ‘stray cat’ compared to himself as ‘a scared house cat,’ is the only person who can bring him out of his shell. Mina is his complimentary opposite, his personal Watson, his only real friend, with whom he shared a flat for a period following his divorce.

Thomas is a man so deep in the closet that he ‘turns into a plank’ when anyone touches him, drinks away his personal angst and can only admit his attractions to his imaginary friend, Sherlock Holmes – and even then it’s a struggle. That is until he meets the theatrical Matt after rescuing him from a homophobic attack in the street.

I had always run away from feelings, and the urge to just jump right out the bathroom window was overwhelming.

Sherlock, Thomas’s obsession comes to life via random appearances in which he cajoles Thomas, offering him unsolicited advice or insults in an attempt to help him ‘solve his case’.

I leaned back and looked at the ceiling. I was up against Sherlock Holmes cool intellect. I wish I’d made another fictional character my psychiatrist.

A Case of Madness is a story about coming out, coming into yourself, and the transformative power of love. There is some lovely magical realism scattered throughout this novel in the form of Thomas’s hallucinations, which are essentially his subconscious speaking to him to try and save him from himself. There are plenty of Sherlock references throughout, but you don’t have to be a Holmes fan to enjoy this sweet queer romcom.

Thanks to Yvonne for the ARC!

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