Jacqueline Winspear, May 2017, 350 pages, Allison and Busby, ISBN: 0749021802
Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
Britain is at war. Returned from a dangerous mission onto enemy soil and having encountered an old enemy and the Fuhrer himself along the way, Maisie Dobbs is fully aware of the gravity of the current situation and how her world is on the cusp of great change. One of those changes can be seen in the floods of refugees that are arriving in Britain, desperate for sanctuary from the approaching storm of war. When Maisie stumbles on the deaths of refugees who may have been more than ordinary people, she is drawn into an investigation that requires all her insight and strength.
Running her own private investigation agency, Maisie has plenty of work coming in and is busy with current enquiries when she is approached at her home address by a lady known as Dr Francesca Thomas who explains that she wants to employ Maisie and her firm to try to prevent a murder from happening. Dr Thomas works for the Belgian Government and explains that several thousand refugees fled their country during the Great War and many had settled in the UK, changing their names if appropriate. One Belgian named Frederick Addens, was unfortunately found dead in St Pancras Station in early August, shot in the back of the head.
According to Dr Thomas, Scotland Yard were not too interested in spending a lot of time investigated the death of a foreign national, particularly at a time of heightened security because of the impending war. Dr Thomas said a Detective Inspector Caldwell at Scotland Yard was in charge of the case and Maisie has had dealings with him before. She wants Maisie to look into the case and she will pay all the expenses.
Maisie reluctantly takes up the case and asks her assistants, Billy Beale and Sandra Pickering at her Fitzroy Square, London W1 office address to look into various aspects of it immediately. Using all the skills that she has picked up in over ten years of investigations Maisie soon sets to work in solving this latest case. Maisie also has to look into a couple of other cases which are similarly quite complex but this adds to the enjoyment of this very gripping story.
Jacqueline Winspear is a very gifted author of historical mystery thrillers and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to review her latest work. I have read for review several of her previous books and consequently I appreciate the very detailed research that the author makes when plotting her stories. You really get a good sense of what daily life was like in the 1930s. This is a very high quality story with very good characterisation of Maisie, Billy and the other lesser characters which are so insightful that they just leap off of the page.
I enjoyed reading this story immensely and I do look forward to reading more of the highly intriguing adventures of Maisie from this very idiosyncratic and evocative writer. Extremely well recommended.
Terry Halligan, May 2017