Excellent new addition to the series! The Great Depression is taking hold of London, and there is an undercurrent of unrest amongst the war veterans who have been forgotten. Maisie Dobbs is called in to assist Scotland Yard when she witnesses a man, a fellow war veteran, blow himself up in a public place. This series has been wonderful to read, and I can't wait for the next one to come out!
First Line: Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, picked up her fountain pen to sign her name at the end of a final report that she and her associate, Billy Beale, had worked late to complete the night before.
It is Christmas Eve, 1931, in London, and Maisie Dobbs is walking down a city street. She sees a dirty, physically handicapped man sitting on the pavement, and there's something about the look on his face that makes her walk toward him to see if she can help.
The man detonates a bomb, killing himself and slightly wounding several others--including Maisie. In no time at all Maisie finds herself working with a special team out of Scotland Yard to discover the identity of a man who's sending very threatening letters to the Prime Minister. In a city filled with veterans of World War I who have been mentally disabled by their service but put out of hospitals with no pensions and no hopes of employment, Maisie is looking for a needle in a haystack. Somehow she manages to piece together a profile of the man sending the letters, but will they be able to find him before he carries out his threat?
The only writer outside of Jacqueline Winspear who I've found capable of putting me body and soul into this time period is Lyn Macdonald. Among the Mad can oftentimes be an upsetting book to read as Winspear describes a government which was completely comfortable using an entire generation of men as nothing but cannon fodder and then denying them the help, the employment and the pensions they so desperately needed--and earned. To a government that would say doing so would bankrupt the country, I would reply: hadn't the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of men already achieved that? As you can see, this book touched a nerve because history just keeps on repeating itself.
The time period isn't the real reason why I love these books, however. In fact, I have a friend who is also hooked on this series, and she doesn't care for the time period at all. You see, we both love Maisie Dobbs. In Among the Mad, the man writing those threatening letters explains it best:
"She showed care. That is all I have asked for, these many years, that people are concerned, and that in their actions, they demonstrate care. It occurred to me that the woman did not wait for someone else to approach Ian. She did not ignore him. She walked toward him without looking in another direction. I noticed that. I have come to notice that people do not look at the Ians of this world, but instead turn their heads here and there."
If you want to be immersed in another time, read Winspear's series. If you want to solve intriguing mysteries, read Winspear's series. If you want to read about a woman who cares deeply...read Winspear's series.
As you continue the Maisie Dobbs series, each book explores some aspect of the lingering results of World War I. In this book it is the plight of the wounded in body and mind and their neglect in Depression-era Britain. I don't want to reveal too many details and ruin the unraveling of the story but the plot is compelling and the personal secondary story involving Billy Beale is good also.