Friday, April 29, 2011

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs, #8)

Jacqueline Winspear has emphatically mastered the art of a mystery series with this latest addition to her list. Not only does her main character have a wealth of personality traits that are admirable, laudable, even enviable, she is attractive, wealthy (this is critical), and clever. She is as busy as we are, so we don’t feel as though time is passing slowly, or that we are wasting time reading of her adventures. Meetings, letters, investigations, reading, meditation all take time, and she schedules herself very closely. She is the woman we would strive to be. It is interesting to see how she responds to queries, doubts, challenges, though I have to admit it is frustrating to see her push those lovely suitors away one by one, again and again.

But not only do we have Maisie Dobbs herself to consider, we have her constellation of family and friends, who by this time in the series have become our own friends: employees, mentors, her father, her fiancé all have lives and backstories we revel in following. This time I am struck by the success of the formula: with many threads and much driving about, the pace leaves readers breathless. But the comforting commonsense calm of reason brings Alexander McCall Smith to mind, despite the difference in the subject matters of the series produced by each author. It is the tone that is reminiscent, one of the other. And that is high praise indeed.

This latest in the series introduces Maisie to the Secret Service in the years before WWII. She takes on an assignment which requires the utmost secrecy, and I amused to read how many times she told friends and colleagues what she was doing was “hush-hush” for the government. How hush-hush is that? I guess they didn’t really mean it.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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