Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Published: March 23, 2010
Hardcover: 338 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael--the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman--puts duty first and sails for his father's native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action.
April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael's parents, who have recently learned that their son's remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael's belongings--a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier's family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love.
My Thoughts: This is my favorite Maisie Dobbs novel so far. Once again, we follow Maisie on case of an American family wanting to know about their son's love during World War I. Letters were found with him when his body was discovered, and his parents would like to know who it was that he was writing to. However, everything is not as it appears, with the medical report showing a blunt force trauma to the back of the head, indicating that Michael Clifton was murdered, not killed in the line of duty. Maisie is working with Scotland Yard again, but she is in control of the case this time and asserting herself as someone who can handle a case on her own. This novel had the best plot of any of Winspear's novels, with the mystery going on, Maisie's new romantic interest, Billy Beale and his family, and Maurice, Maisie's mentor, becoming ill.
After reading this novel, it's apparent that Winspear is really coming into her own with character development. In the past books in this series, I have sometimes felt like things were a bit stilted or there might not have been enough information on someone, but not so with this one. Each character and plot line is fully developed, creating one of the most well-rounded books I've read in sometime. Maisie is continuing to grow and mature, which she acknowledges several times throughout this book. Billy and his family also provide a nice little story line, as we see how someone in the lower classes might have been living during the Great Depression. I also thought that Maurice Blanche was at his most complete as a character in this book. He explained himself fully and every thought was drawn out for the reader.
I love Jacqueline Winspear's work and this novel makes me all the more anxious to run to the library and pick up the next book in this series. If you like historical fiction and myseteries, then you need to check out this series! It is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to read.