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From Goodreads: With the country in the grip of economic malaise, Maisie Dobbs is relieved to accept an apparently straightforward assignment to investigate a potential land purchase. Her inquiries take her to a picturesque village in Kent during the hop-picking season, but beneath its pastoral surface she finds evidence that something is amiss. Mysterious fires erupt in the village with alarming regularity, and a series of petty crimes suggest a darker criminal element at work. A peculiar secrecy shrouds the village, and ultimately Maisie must draw on her finely-honed skills of detection to solve one of her most intriguing cases yet.

I know I’ve said this about the other Maisie Dobbs books but this really is my favorite so far. The mystery was very complex and interesting. We got to know more about Maisie family history. Maisie was able to release some of the pain of her past and embrace her future. And Pris was back.

I always knew there was something in Maisie’s past that gave her her gift and sure enough she does. Her gypsy grandmother must have passed on more than just Maisie’s  jet black hair. It was nice to see Maisie get in touch with that part of her while investigating a land sale for James Compton, the son of her former employers Lady and Lord Compton. I love the way she found a place for herself with Beulah, Webb, and Paishy and was able to grow. I have to say the thing I’m really enjoying with each new novel is watching Maisie loosen up and start to enjoy life.  I love that she’s finding time to have some fun.

This was definitely the darkest of all the mysteries Maisie has dealt with and I was equally heartbroken and horrified by what happened. It was an interesting look at small communities devastated by war. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to lose so many young men at one time. Another thing I think these novels do is to show the wide spread and long lasting impact of war. It’s not over when it’s over-that’s for sure.

Maisie also closes the door on a huge part of her past. I don’t want to give anything away but the novel will definitely set Maisie on her way forward into the future. And in doing so is able to start to mend her relationship with Maurice Blance. Hopefully she will be able to move on and find a little romance. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed Maisie will be getting a boyfriend soon.

And, yippee, Priscilla is back. I love Pris. I love that she calls Maisie on her s0litary, work-filled life. I love how honest she is about the past and is able to live her life in full and wants Maisie to do the same. She really forces Maisie forward so well. I love her rough and tumble boys and her obvious love for them. And I love that Maisie has a friend who she is comfortable with.

It was great to see Billy, Frankie, and Maurice back again. I’m worried about Billy leaving for Canada and I have no idea what Maisie will do without him but I’ll worry about that when it comes. For all the horribleness of the mystery and all the sad turn of events there really was quite a bit of joy as well. Come on, how bad can it all be when it ends with Maisie dancing?

Oh, one last thing. I found it utterly fascinating and an interesting perspective that Billy was on “holiday” while working hop-picking. Just getting out of “the smoke” was the vacation. I don’t know if I would think that was much of a vacation.  Hmmm.

If you’re reading along with the I’m Mad for Maisie read-along with Book Club Girl head on over and join the discussion. And if you haven’t started reading Maisie Dobbs-get off the stick, you don’t know what your missing.

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