Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Dangerous Place

A Dangerous Place

Jacqueline Winspear's newest Maisie Dobbs novel is meant for her fans: those avid readers who have already waded through the first ten books in the series and were eagerly awaiting this one. If you are new to this series, please start with the first one, Maisie Dobbs, first published in 2003. You will not be sorry.

Maisie Dobbs is a rags to riches story in pre-WWI Britain. Each novel in the series transports us further along the timeline, though the terrible war years of 1914-18 and then through the depression years leading to WWII. It seems that we readers and authors in the 21st century love to look back 100 years and imagine how life used to be, witness the many novels written about this era and the intense popularity of TV programs like Downton Abbey and Call The Midwives. 

Maisie, for those new to the series, is a young woman, abounding in practicality and common sense, who has risen above her humble roots, has worked as a nurse on the front lines of WWI, has been educated, has seen pain and tragedy and yet has always landed on her firmly-planted feet. Under the mentor-ship of Maurice Blanche, she works for many years as a private investigator, always noticing the others around her, how the economic times are affecting them and trying to help where she can, without being condescending.

A Dangerous Place gives us a Maisie who has moved on. She has ended her PI business in London, spent time in India, married and then, precipitously, has had it all taken from her. We catch up with her, fragile emotionally, in Gibraltar, having paused there on the journey between India and Britain. She has barely disembarked the ship when she practically trips over a dead body, apparently murdered, but by whom and why?

We are caught up in the events and politics of the time - 1937: the Spanish Civil War is raging and momentum toward WWII is building. Nobody can trust anybody. Maisie, alone and grieving, her family and friends at home desperately worried about her, feels she must do the right thing by the murdered man and his family and find out what happened. 

I enjoyed this book a lot. Frankly, I was getting a bit tired of the old Maisie Dobbs, London Private Investigator and was ready for this change-up. Well-done Jacqueline Winspear for taking a leap and leading us onward! A series that might well have petered out has had new life breathed into it. I foresee many more adventures ahead. Can't wait!