A terrible family secret has stolen Grace Mae's voice and landed her in a mental hospital in Boston. Unable to speak of the act that ended in an unwanted pregnancy, Grace spends her days listening to the awful sounds made by her fellow inmates and observing the horrible treatment prescribed by doctors and nurses in the name of 19th century mental health.
Due to a "treatment" for a perceived misbehavior, Grace loses the baby and is taken to a cell in the basement where she is befriended by a neighboring cellmate. With his help and a faked lobotomy, Grace is able to escape. Among the conditions of her escape, it must be thought that she is dead, and she must accompany a Dr. Thornhollow to her new home in an Ohio asylum and agree to work with him studying the criminal mind.
The Ohio asylum is run by a much more sympathetic staff, and Grace even makes friends with two girls who are also patients there. Although she has regained the ability to speak, part of the deception involves her remaining mute. Despite this handicap, she still finds comfort from her new friendships and the fact that her move to Ohio has allowed her to escape her abuser. However, she is now worried for a little sister still living in her family home.
A MADNESS SO DISCREET explores the human mind and what it does to maintain its tenuous grip on sanity when threatened by the atrocities in the world around it. Multiple story lines and gripping suspense make this novel a sure winner. McGinnis is also the author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK and A HANDFUL OF DUST.