Maisie Dobbs' first assignment for the British Secret Service takes her undercover to Cambridge as a professor—and leads to the investigation of a web of activities being conducted by the emerging Nazi Party.
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs' career takes an exciting new turn when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities "not in the interests of His Majesty's government".
When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Richard Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.
To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.
As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, this pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs foreshadows new challenges and powerful enemies facing the psychologist and investigator—and will engage new listeners and loyal fans of this "outstanding" series (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review).
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©2010 Jacqueline Winspear (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
In this book Masie is asked by the Secret Service to take a job at Cambridge as a Philosophy professor at a college dedicated to the furthering of peace. Masie is tasked with the job of finding out if the staff or students are part of the Communist party and are engaged in activities that are a threat to the Government.
Maisie is not there more than a day or two before a man is murdered and Scotland Yard is called into investigate. Maisie engages in a delicate dance between investigating subversives for the Secret Service and assisting Scotland Yard (unasked) solve the murder. Maisie turns up a group of students sympathetic to the growing SDP in Germany and warns the Secret Service about their activities. The Secret Service is more concerned with ferreting out Communists than they are Fascists and this creates a certain amount of conflict between Maisie and the SS. At that point my brain switched over to real life and I remembered that it was in just this very period in time that Trinity College in Cambridge was the place that The Cambridge Five met and were recruited by the Soviets and became the most effective espionage agents against the British and American interests in the history of spydom. Using 20/20 hindsight perhaps the SS and Winspear should have expanded Maisies mission to include both groups. But then no one had a clue at the time that that nest of vipers was forming its self so I guess being clueless is appropriate.
This book is not heavy on plot. The main mystery was the murder and the spy hunt merely peripheral it seemed to me. Meantime, back at the ranch (London) another mystery develops and is left to Billy to investigate. I thought that much more could have been done with this mystery but perhaps Winspear thought Maisie had her hands to full already.
But is was a lovely visit into Maisie's world. Winspear is a master at creating an atmosphere that drips with authenticity and her secondary characters new and old are always credible
I've enjoyed every book in this series that features a clever young English woman who served as a nurse during WWI. In some of her characters, she reveals the psychological and physical aftermath endured by veterans, while solving intriguing mysteries. Maisie, à la Upstairs/Downstairs, transitioned from a maid to a college-educated psychologist/investigator who is respected enough to work freelance with Scotland Yard. Go Maisie! (Written by Lynn, not Richard.)
Narrative makes the world go round.
While still a worthy download, this seemed weaker than others in the series -- not quite as well written, more than usual reliance on devices such as overheard conversations and unlikely confidences, perhaps too much backstory (though that is useful to anyone picking this installment up first). Also, Maisie doesn't seem to grow in self-knowledge in this story; she's a bit too complacent a philanthropist. Perhaps Winspear, like Dobbs, is having some problems adjusting to Maise's expanded role.
There is still a strong element of reframing WWI, examining the role of pacifism and Special Branch's too easy dismissal of fascist sympathizers while snooping other ideologies. All this unfolds while continuing to spin the threads of other aspects of Maise's life, so I still look forward to the next novel - and really, many similar series would spend a novel on just one of Winspear's subplots -- so still a very worthy download for light but not dumbed-down listening.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Orlagh Cassidy does a great job narrating this book. Maisie is doing multitasking trying to balance a number of jobs at once. She is now hired by the secret service to look into possible communist at a collage. She goes in undercover as a teacher. What she finds is an active Nazi party but the secret service discounts her findings. Toss in a couple of murders, new staff at the office and a new baby arriving. Lots of action.
Retired bookkeeper, married, Mom of 2, two granddaughters. Love cozy mysteries.
I am currently enjoying this series from Jacqueline Winspear. This series takes place in the early 1930's. I've enjoyed learning about how the people in England lived during that time - in the aftermath of WW1. Maisie is a lovable character - a person whom you would be happy to call "my friend". She is compassionate and loving, yet takes her job seriously - a person you would admire. Everything you could want in a cozy mystery is here, and there's a bit of romance, too. It's one of those series that draws you in, and you can't wait to get to the next book. No objectionable language. I was able to get the earlier books from my library, but they didn't have this title, so I got it here on Audible.
I have read all of the Maisie Dobbs novels in order and this was the most disappointing. Maisie began as an interesting character with the potential for development as a complex, entertaining and compassionate human being but with each new novel she has become more shallow. Ms. Winspear has failed to deliver a believable, three dimensional human being. It is time for the author to put this plastic person to bed, at least for me. Goodnight Maisie.
Disagree with those who found this one "sub par". Maisie is moving forward and she is one of those who senses that a new darkness is creeping back into power in Europe--while her country's leaders take little heed. Enjoyed it very much.
While the story line portends WWII events, this switching of the primary scene to a college and having Maisie teach took momentum out of the story. There was too much "and then she walked to the main hall" in this for me. Many of the relationships with other characters fell flat.
But,, it was an OK listen.
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