I’ve shared that among my favorite authors is Jacqueline Winspear and her Maisie Dobbs series. So it was with great anticipation I opened Winspear’s newest novel, #11 in the series, A Dangerous Place.
My first reaction—now for something completely different…
The beginning feels like a cheat at first read. Several years have passed in Maisie’s life since the last novel, Leaving Everything Most Loved.
In the first 20 pages we learn that Maisie married, moved to Canada, became pregnant, lost her husband in a plane crash, lost the baby, and went to India. This information is presented very quickly and I found myself wishing for another book just to give us these years as a story, not a summary.
But, if we’re patient, it turns out to be worth it.
The story opens in 1938 with Maisie on the island of Gibraltar on her way back to England. But she stumbles into a murder when she finds the victim, Sebastian Babayoff. The explanation given by the police doesn’t sit quite right with our Maisie and soon her investigative skills, which have lain dormant, propel her into the victim’s life and family.
The backdrop of the story is the Spanish Civil War and the militaristic stirrings in Germany and Italy. Quickly, Maisie is swept up in international intrigue with spies and agents and gunrunners galore. And someone—several someones actually—have taken a particular interest in her.
Winspear does her usual excellent job of keeping all this activity humming along, casting doubts, revealing clues, and sweeping us into this new adventure. An adventure that leads Maisie into Spain and smack dab into the civil war.
There the memories of her own experiences in World War I trigger times of reflection and meditation where Maisie ponders her past, her present, and her future. This is all done with in the context of the story and never bogs it down. And we experience with Maisie the grief of the loss of her husband and child and the resolution of where she will go next which is a surprise.
Once again, Winspear creates a setting that is a dynamic character in the story, one that interacts with Maisie and moves her emotionally and spiritually to confront her own doubts and fears. The setting and the characters bring Spain and multi-cultural Gibraltar to life. As always, Winspear’s research flows naturally through the story, never interfering with Maisie’s adventure, and enhancing our understanding of the world of Maisie Dobbs.
This is an excellent addition to the Maisie Dobbs series and I give it 5 stars.