From Goodreads: Maisie Dobbs is anything but merry as she walks home on Christmas Eve, 1931. She’s just witnessed the suicide of a man on a crowded London street. What unfolds the next day is even more troubling. A letter delivered to the prime minister’s office promises massive mayhem, the destruction of thousands of lives — and, most surprising of all, it mentions Maisie by name. Drawn into the case first as a suspect, then as a consultant, Dobbs realizes that only she and her assistant are standing between a madman and his terrorist dreams.
These books just keep getting better. If you read series at all you know this is not an easy task. But Jacqueline Winsprear pulls it off each and every time. This is by far the most suspenseful of all the books and it keep me on the edge of the page the whole time. What’s most remarkable about this entry into the series if the formula was stirred up a bit. While still have all the great elements that I love about a Maisie Dobbs book there was a major change dropped into the mix. For the first time we are let in on the thoughts of our culprit. By way of his journal entries we get into the mind of the person planning nothing short of a terrorist attack on London. This not only added to the tension of the story but gave us insight into the wounded mind of a man destroyed by war.
Here’s the thing that keeps me coming back to the books in this series, all the characters are so interesting and real. I love both the central characters and the new characters introduced for each new story. In this story we get to see Maisie start to really embrace life and put her experiences in the war firmly behind her and start looking for both joy and companionship. Realizing her loneliness and need for human connections she reaches out to Priscilla and her family. I can’t even tell you how much I love Priscilla. And I adore she has been given more depth with each new story. Here we see that Pris isn’t as “over” the war as she may have seen earlier. Back in London Priscilla must truly deal with the loss of her family and her fears of the future for her own boys.
In contrast to Priscilla’s fears for the future is Doreen’s inability to let go of her horrible loss in the past. Doreen, Maisie’s assistant Billy’s wife, cannot get past the loss of their daughter. The Beale’s lost their daughter Lizzy in the fourth novel in the series Messenger of Truth. Where that story showed the inequity the lower classes had in treating illness this story showed just how awful some of the treatments towards the mentally ill were. Particularly, if you were poor. The treatment Doreen first received was just frightening.
This story also bring to light the treatment of men and women damaged psychologically by war. Though the setting is 1930s England I’m sure there are some parallels to the lack of attention paid to mental illness as a result of war. Other comparisons can be made to today’s fears of chemical terrorism. It was so interesting to think there is nothing new under the sun. Where we may think worrying about terrorist with chemical weapons is something new, it obviously is something that has been around a very long time. Boy, did tht add to the suspense.
I mentioned there were some wonderful new characters introduced. We met Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane. (Boy, is that a mouthful-I tell you they sure know how to drag out the names of their Police officials) Let me tell you, Robert MacFarlane can go toe to toe with our Maisie. He even calls her on her habit of mimicking people in order to make them feel more at ease and easier for her to relate. While I hope there is not a romance between the two (something it seems Robert would like) because I am standing strong for team Stratton, I hope MacFarlance is around for awhile. He has broken down some of Maisie’s barriers. Maisie also has to deal with members of MI-5 and I can only hope we see more of that. I can see story lines coming as WWII looms in the near distance.
This was a jam packed edition to the series with both the mystery (maybe the best so far) and the personal stories grabbing me and holding on to the end. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I have high hopes for the next in the series. I know I have said this over and over and over (and over and over-that’s five times over for each in the series so far) but this is my favorite so far. At first I hesitated saying this because I starts to lose it something to say it for each book. But they do just keep getting better. Winspear adds layers with each new story and Maisie, Billy, Priscilla, Stratton, and all the characters keep getting more endearing. So, yes this is my favorite so far and I won’t be surprised if I end up saying this again in my next Maisie review.