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Publisher's Summary

Maisie Dobbs - "a female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander" (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air), faces danger and intrigue on the home front during World War II in this poignant entry (number 14) in Jacqueline Winspear's New York Times best-selling series - "a series that seems to get better with every entry" (Tom Holland, Wall Street Journal). 

Spring 1940. With Britons facing what has become known as "the Bore War" - nothing much seems to have happened yet - Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the disappearance of a local lad, a young apprentice craftsman working on a "hush-hush" government contract. As Maisie's inquiry reveals a possible link to the London underworld, another mother is worried about a missing son - but this time the boy in question is one beloved by Maisie.

As USA Today's Robert Bianco says, "with clarity and economy, Winspear lays the historical groundwork.... The setting matters, but what may matter more is the lovely, sometimes poetic way Winspear pushes her heroine forward.... May she shine on the literary scene for many books to come."

©2018 Jacqueline Winspear (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

  "[Narrator Orlagh] Cassidy's accent, tone, and pace are well tuned to Maisie's strong and empathetic character. Cassidy draws on her full palate of British accents to differentiate a large cast of secondary characters, male and female, old and young." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 05-06-18

A Great Story

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. This is book fourteen in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie was a nurse in World War One; then trained to be a psychologist/investigator after the war. The story opens in May 1940. Great Britain is again at war with Germany. Maisie has been hired to investigate the disappearance of a fifteen-year-old boy, Joseph Combes. He is an apprentice painter working for a company that has a government contract to go about the countryside to paint a special fire-retardant chemical on strategic government and military buildings.

The book is well written and researched. The author has the story set with a background of Dunkirk and the battle of Britain. This is a great historical novel. The plot twist and turns around family drama. I have read that Winspear bases a lot of the plot on her own family’s experiences. If you enjoy historical novels this book would provide you great enjoyment.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is ten and a half hours. Orlagh Cassidy does a superb job narrating the book. Cassidy is one of my favorite narrators. Cassidy is an actress, voice over artist and award-winning audiobook narrator.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 03-28-18

Excellent British historical detective mystery!

Author Jacqueline Windspear began her wonderful Maisie Dobbs historical detective series in 2003. The first novel was set in London soon after the end of WWI with Maisie setting up her detective agency. Maisie's life has changed a lot since including personal tragedy. To Die buy Once is Book 14 in the series and it is set in 1940 early in WWII. Every novel has been great, even the painful ones. This one is no exception. If you are looking for a similar series Molly Morphy by Rhys Bowen is similar in many ways. Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series is also somewhat similar but is much lighter and more fun than Maisie Dobbs.

I'm a huge fan of narrator and American actress Orlagh Cassidy, but her narration of To Die but Once is disappointing because her English accent is off.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

To Die but Once

I love this series! Masie and her crew seem like old friends and Ms Winspear captures the mood of England perfectly. I have a strong sense of being part of the scene - both city and countryside. Maxie's divergent thought process is fun to watch develop. All in all a marvelous book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I love the Maisie Dobbs series!

Maisie is so intelligent and has a compassionate heart. I love her character. well written and engaging. sometimes I ask myself in certain situations...."what would Maisie do?" because she always does the right thing!

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Love Maisie Dobbs

We’ve enjoyed the whole series of Maisie Dobbs stories and look forward to every new one! I highly recommend them!

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Still Wonderful After All These Years

It's been wonderful going through life with Maisie. Now she is living in the cusp of World War II in England. I love all the details of the times and the relationships in Maisie's life. Wonderful mystery without all the gore and sex.

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Still love Maisie

The narrator is somewhat improved and seems to be treating Maisie a bit more like the strong and independent woman she is, and not the breathless girlie interpretation of earlier books. There’s still room for improvement, particularly with pronunciation, inappropriate pauses and odd emphases.

This story isn’t Winspear’s best but is very good, nonetheless. It’s a must for those following Maisie’s personal and professional evolution.

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Excellent

This was the best Maisie Dobbs story to daye. I liked the personal side of her

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Best Novel Yet

I did not believe Ms. Winspear could improve her already brilliant writing. However, this is her best work yet! I was riveted to her story rich with endearing characters, a few tears, and constant second guessing who-done-it outcomes. Loved this novel!

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Maisie, Billy, and All Return. Yes!

It's like old friends we haven't heard from for a while return. I've followed Maisie through all of Jaqueline Winspear's books. This one doesn't disappoint. One of Pricilla's sons becomes a hero, but at a very high price. Billy's oldest son survives Dunkirk, but must return to the fight. WWII is underway with all the sacrifices for the characters we love. Maisie's work continues as she waits for a decision that is already changing how she works. This suggests there's another book, a continuation of Maisie to come. I hope it won't be too long. I love these tales because it's like the characters are real people I know.