Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Lesson in Secrets

A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
by Jacqueline Winspear, Harper, March, 2011

While this book is a little light on the mystery it is a worthy addition to the series

This book is the eighth in the Maisie Dobbs series and can easily be read as a standalone book but I really suggest you start at the beginning if you are new to the series. The two hallmarks of this series are period detail and character development. This story like the previous ones is set in Britain between the world wars. Maisie, a psychologist and private investigator is now an independent woman with an inheritance from her mentor Maurice.  She is asked by the government to investigate subversive activities at a pacifist college in Cambridge. Since this is a mystery there is the requisite murder but that story line is almost secondary to the descriptions of British life. Maisie encounters the nascent fascist movement among her students. In typical fashion the government is not worried about the Nazis but about potential communists. In the midst of the murder investigation Maisie discovers a government cover-up of a WWI mutiny where British and German soldiers refused to continue the front line fighting.

While the lasting effects of the First World War on the British has been an integral part of this series, the coming war gives the series and this book a sense of dread that is palpable. On a more optimistic note things are going very well in Maisie’s private life, her love affair with the aristocratic son of her former employer is advancing nicely, her assistant Billy and his family are recovering from the death of a child and her elderly father has a girlfriend.

While this book is a little light on the mystery it is a worthy addition to the series. The author has a talent for realistic descriptions of characters at all levels of British society from her assistant Billy a working stiff to her former employers, Lord and Lady Compton. In this book Maisie for the first time works for the government security forces, a relationship sure to continue as the country moves towards war. Maisie is really the linchpin of these books, daughter of a costermonger (love that word) a former parlor maid who has risen to independence without sacrificing her integrity – she is one of my favorite mystery detectives!

I read a copy of this book provided by the publisher.


Cherry said...

I came from Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday (BRPW).

This series is new to me, and this book being the 8th in the series, it'll probably take me forever to read the first 7... what with my TBR pile already mountainous... so, it is nice to know that this book can be read as a stand alone should I manage to get my hands on a copy :)

Cherry Mischievous
chericenter-warrior2 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Elizabeth said...

Stopping by from Cym Lowell's Book Review Party.

Your book sounds good.

Stop by my blog for a giveaway of LINEN QUEEN courtesy of Sarah from Hachette is ending this evening, March 23.