It's Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister's office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met - and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard's elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane's personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case.
Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie's trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia's abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people.
Don't miss other titles in the Maisie Dobbs series.
©2009 Jacqueline Winspear; (P)2009 Macmillan Audio
The series is excellent. If you are a fan of social history (post WWI England, women's history, Depression Era) in a fictional setting, Winspears books are very well researched, without being teachy or preachy. The reader has a pleasant manner, with voices well differentiated.
Please read the books in order of series to appreciate this book the most. The main character Maisie Dobbs is a bright, intelligent, independent career woman in 1931-32. Over the years she has evolved and recovered from the many scars of her war experience. This chapter in her life exposes the atrocities of chemical warfare, and remnants from WWI. It also exposes the dreary economy of post war England where former soldiers got no pensions, are homeless and ill from their war experience. It is a desperate time for many, and the pain is recorded in the pages. Maisie's employee Billy has problems of his own with a wife suffering from depression. Clearly JW did her research on early methods of depression treatment. The plot line is suspenseful as Maisie chases to find a killer and is intriguing at the same time. A psychological thriller with social history intertwined. Great detail and growth of characters. The narration is fitting and well done, once again Orlagh Cassidy does a great job.
I purchased this audiobook as I enjoyed the last few books in the series. I was able to overlook Orlagh Cassidy's amateurish reading style in the previous books as the writing was so engrossing; however, her narration is so poor that I am tempted to just delete the rest of the book. Orlagh Cassidy has no ear for accents; in fact, her dreadful attempts to reproduce regional accents is akin to being completely tone deaf. Not only is her cockney riddled with northern vowels ('oop' instead of 'up'), but her embarrassing 'Scottish' is beyond laughable. I cringe whenever I listen to her ghastly Northern Irish/posh English mishmash served up with a few long rolling R's - supposedly to ensure that we know it's Scots she is mimicking. It would have been better if she had just narrated without trying to do accents. Why oh why did they go with her for the rest of the series when the first two narrators were just fine? What a way to ruin a good series!
Narrative makes the world go round.
This Maisie Dobbs instalment is far from an English "cozy"; parts gave me the psychological shivers. Even though that's not an element I seek in a mystery, this listen still rates highly by me, as do all the novels in the series.
If you were bothered by elements like Maisie's dowsing in "Incomplete Revenge," this is a more rational Miss Dobbs. Also, she delves less into her own psyche than in the past instalments but observes the social devastation around her even more acutely.
This series has sent me to books on the post WWI era in Britain (both the politics and social history), and I am amazed at how accurately Winspeare weaves history into her narrative. There are some anachronistic concepts, but the author has cleverly given Maisie a license to be ahead of her time.
If you are new to Maise Dobbs but are an Anne Perry reader, think of the best elements of Hester/ Monk/ Pitt and Charlotte all in one character, move the story ahead to the early 1930s, make the social history more comprehensive, the prose and plot elements tighter (and, if you enjoy biting your nails, this one in particular may appeal - I hope for "cosier" listen in the next in the series)
The whole point of the book is about cruely turning away from the ugliness and effects of war. Yet, you condemn Winspear for not turning away from the subject.
At the end of the book, it cannot be any clearer the her character is changing.
Right, it's courageous to take on a "difficult" subject like chemical weapons and testing of deadly poisons on animals. I agree that it took "courage" -- that doesn't mean I have to read/listen to it.
This book exceeded my "dead dog index" by a factor of five before I was an hour in. And it didn't stop there. In today's world, there are way too many things to make me feel sad -- I don't need to read about people -- scientific or murderous -- who kill dogs. Even fictional ones.
Too much. I gave up at three hours.
Good series though -- I've liked all the others.
I am an avid eclectic reader
This is an excellent series. I found a lot of similarity between England 1931 and 21 to the present day U.S. We have untreated homeless Vietnam vets lying on the streets of every city. We have current War Vets returning to poor mental health care and no civilian job available, as well as the governments broke and unable to do their jobs. Have we learned nothing from the past? Orlagh Cassidy does a good job narrating the story and Winspear did a good job creating a realistic story.
Excellent book! I adore Maisie Dobbs and the rest of the regulars in this series. The subject matter in this book is very relevant to what is happening now with our own veterans. It also sheds light on the aftermath of "The Great War", WWI. Maisie makes progress on her own war wounds as well. Good mystery, great characters, and excellent narration. Highly recommended!
although the story itself proved rather grim. In this one, the point-of-view changes abruptly at times into the head of the villain, which the narrator handles well by giving him a sort of sing-song cadence so as to realize that switch immediately.
The Maisie Dobbs series is just the best. This book is sixth in the series and each one has been stellar. I feel I got the most out of this book for having read the previous five books, but I think the book stands well on its own. As with the previous books, Maisie is involved in solving a crime that has its roots in World War I, Maisie herself having served as a nurse during the war.
The title refers to mental disease and its effects on the characters on both a personal and public level. Maisie and her assistant Billy are called on to assist Scotland Yard and the British intelligence community in solving terrorist bombings. We learn through the bomber's letters to Scotland Yard that he is quite mad and that his insanity is related to the war. An additional plotline follows Billy's wife Doreen as she struggles with depression and institutionalization.
As with the previous books in the series, the story is wonderfully atmospheric. London and its weather, architecture, cars, fashion, speaking styles and mores of the time contribute to making this book worth every moment spent reading and listening.
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