After the last post, here is the most recent episode in the Maisie Dobbs series. I must admit that I did not hold out much hope of getting to read this book until it came out in paperback, but lo, there was a copy of the new hardback on the shelves of the newly discovered (for me) Belper Library…
Anyone who has read any of the Maisie Dobbs books knows that this detective / secret agent / investigator carries angst with her. She comes out of service to go to Cambridge, leaves to nurse in the First World War, falls in love, loses her man etc. Somewhere along the line she comes to the notice of Maurice, who has many skills and links with the Secret Service among other organisations. His death and bequests mean that she has become a rich woman, and she has endured further tragedy by the time this, the tenth novel in the series begins. These novels are best read in sequence as the developments in Maisie’s life are central to each plot. Some of the books are better than others, and I can remember one or two where the research undertaken hangs over the text heavily.
In this novel Maisie is despondent about her present and future, living with her friend’s family, having been rescued from nursing in the Spanish Civil War. She is contacted by some government officials who have a mission for her in Munich. It requires more than delicacy as the Nazi party are becoming more established and dangerous.
As always, there is an ongoing obsession with what Maisie is wearing. It is partly justified by the need for disguise, but it is a theme. This is a well written book, with a strong storyline. The characters are well defined and the background of rising racism in Munich is well drawn. There is a sense of menace in every building, every turn, every decision that Maisie makes. In the last section of the book an odd decision threw me a little, but it leads to an interesting outcome.
It is not essential to have read every book in the series to enjoy this novel, but there are undoubtedly ongoing themes and characters through the story which would be confusing to the new reader. If you enjoy reading about the interwar period and female investigators, this is certainly a good book.