Ted Feit offers this review of a book from a popular series.
The common characteristics of the Maisie Dobbs series are the growth
in the character, developments over time and, of course, current
events. In the present novel Maisie, who served as a nurse in France
during World War I (after having been a servant girl before), has
grown over the years, mentored by Dr. Maurice Blanche. Now, in 1932,
she has been made independently wealthy as Blanche’s heir, profitably
operating her investigation business, and is ripe for a new adventure.
Before he died, Blanche predicted that intelligence work for the crown
was in Maisie’s future. And so, it comes to pass that she is
recruited to participate in an investigation being conducted by the
joint efforts of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret
Service. She is to pose as a junior lecturer in philosophy (another
of her talents, apparently) at a college in Cambridge founded by
Greville Liddicote, a pacifist who has published a number of
children’s books, including an anti-war novel that was banned during
the Great War. Maisie is to monitor activities at the school.
However, where Maisie is concerned, can various other sub-plots not
arise? To begin with, she’s trying to get her father to move from his
cottage to the manor she inherited (to no avail), induce her
assistant, Billy Beale, to accept a house in which to move his growing
family, help a woman whose husband is killed in a questionable
accident at work, and, last but not least, help solve the murder of
Liddicote (while told specifically her brief is her intelligence
assignment and not getting involved in the murder inquiry).
The story progresses in a persuasive manner, smoothly written. It
emerges just as Adolph Hitler is rising to lead Germany, giving a hint
to the coming of World War II, as Maisie detects Nazi sympathizers in
the college, and, indeed in unsuspecting Britain. A welcome addition
to the series, this newest entry is recommended.