Don’t know about you, but a lot of times I find that as my favorite historical fiction series progress through the decades, I lose interest or the writing quality goes down. Not so with Maisie Dobbs. We’ve seen her through great tragedy and great happiness, over several decades and she never fails to be interesting. Winspear’s writing remains consistently first-class and enjoyable. Her characters evolve and we learn more about some of our favorites as WWII and the London blitz sends many to the country for the duration. This entry takes place partway through 1941. Maisie’s relationship with the American, Mark Scott still nice but its future is uncertain. Anna, Maisie’s adopted daughter, is doing well, and is frequently under the care of Maisie’s father and stepmother who have moved to the Dower House. Maisie’s job interviewing prospective “spies” for their suitability to carry out special operations in France takes a difficult turn when people near and dear to her best friend, Priscilla present themselves. As she struggles with advising Macfarlane on their fitness for these dangerous missions, her private business mixes with her government work. Little Freddie Hackett, is a runner/messenger for the British. He tells Maisie he saw a murder, but the body went missing and the police were dismissive. What’s more, he is certain that the man he delivered his message to a short while later was the killer. A beautifully written thread ensues, involving Freddie’s abusive father, his educated but hard on her luck mother, and his younger sister who has Downs Syndrome. But between Anna’s needs, her government responsibilities, and her business, something has to give. Maisie delegates more to Billy but she still stays involved in Freddie’s case. As usual, Maisie tries to address this boy’s wellbeing. It turns out that the incident he witnessed has far-reaching implications (of course!). A few leaps in the story are made to move the various threads along, but I accept that– in this case –because I would not cut any of the various storylines. As always, Winspear weaves in tragedy and joy, there are ordinary moments in life with spaghetti and wine and there are extraordinary moments associated with war. I don’t give five stars lightly but I highly recommend this series and this particular entry.
Published by Emily Leader
I have been an avid reader since Dick and Jane met Sally. At age 7, I read my parents' first edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I am a retired lawyer and so read almost only fiction for pleasure. I'm adding in nonfiction these days, largely on social justice matters but also history, biography, and weird topics that catch my imagination. I used to read only serially, one book at a time. Presently, I read paperbacks, hardcovers, listen to audible, listen to CDs and read online through Net Galley. Covid-19 has caused me to read a lot so I have re-upped my Goodreads challenge for 2021 and am starting to review at least my favorite finds annd, perhaps, some stinkers. View all posts by Emily Leader