Barbara’s rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Series: Maisie Dobbs #17
Publication Date: 3/27/22
Period: 1942 – WWII
Number of Pages: 366
The previous books in this series have spanned 3 decades and two world wars. I will admit that I was not a fan of the first books in the series – not because they weren’t wonderful stories, but because Maisie seemed to have the saddest life of anyone I’ve ever seen and that just wasn’t for me. These later books have a more settled Maisie and the mysteries are just as good as those in the beginning. So, a win-win for me.
With Germany bombing England every evening, Maisie is spending most of her time away from London. Not just because of the bombings, but because she wants to spend more time with her newly adopted daughter and her handsome hunk of an American diplomat. While in London, Maisie is approached by a young woman who is a ferry pilot responsible for delivering planes among the various British bases. Jo Hardy was flying a Spitfire to Biggin Hill when she realized someone was shooting at her. Surely not! This comes on the heels of learning her beloved fiancé has died in a crash – with no apparent reason for it. Later, the young woman went back to the site where she had been fired upon and discovered a young American soldier bound and gagged in the barn.
Days later, a good friend of Jo’s – another ferry pilot – is killed flying the same route as Jo had flown. While the official ruling was ‘pilot error’, Jo was quite certain that it wasn’t – and that her fiancé’s crash, Jo’s incident, and her friend’s crash were all related somehow. At the suggestion of another friend, Jo seeks out Maisie Dobbs and lays out her case. Maisie, of course, is intrigued and begins her investigation.
As the investigation progresses, Maisie begins to think maybe there is more than one case – and one of those sets of circumstances seems to cross paths with Maisie’s American diplomat husband (Mark Scott) who is responsible for the American First Lady who will be visiting soon. Are the cases related? Is there more than one case?
Interwoven with the fast-paced mystery is a bit of a mystery and strife in Maisie’s homelife. That home life highlights the circumstances those within England must confront daily. Are there spies within their midst? Are those people who look different or have strange-sounding names sympathizers of Hitler?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the mystery contained within as well as the characters who are wonderfully relatable. The story also highlighted American racist attitudes. I don’t question those, and it makes me ill to have borne witness to the treatment of the black American soldier. I think the author took great pains to subtly portray American racism for the vile thing it is – but – when it came to the English prejudices, it was a few villagers who had lost sons/husbands, etc. and their prejudice was toward the Italians, French, etc. because of that.
This is a great story, with strong, compelling characters and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.