Maisie Dobbs’ private practice as a “psychologist and investigator” is taking off when she receives a curious assignment from a wealthy journalist celebrated for her front-line reporting in World War I. Georgina Bassington-Hope explains that her twin brother has died, and she is convinced he has been murdered despite the police and the coroner’s conviction that his death was an accident. She wants Maisie to dig deeply and find the truth. Over the following weeks, Maisie’s life will be dominated by this unsettling case.
A complex intellectual puzzle
Georgina’s brother, Nick, was a brilliant painter whose work was beginning to earn him a fortune when he tumbled from a scaffold where he was about to hang his masterpiece. Maisie finds it difficult to obtain evidence that his death was anything but accidental: the case is a complex intellectual puzzle. Her thoroughness, obsessive attention to detail, and refusal to take anything at face value eventually lead Maisie into dark corners where the truth eventually emerges. The story is unsettling but it lacks the repeated violence of so much other detective fiction. Maisie works with her brains, not her fists.
Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs #4) by Jacqueline Winspear @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Class resentment in Depression-era England
Messenger of Truth, the fourth in Jacqueline Winspear’s venerable series of Maisie Dobbs novels, is set in the closing days of 1930 and the early months of 1931. With the terrors of World War I still vivid in every mind, the Depression is in full force. Unemployment is rampant, and the fascist politician Oswald Mosley is gaining a following with his demagogic message. The ostentatious wealth of Georgina’s family contrasts with the desperation all around. Maisie’s class awareness rises as the gross inequities weigh on her more and more heavily. Having been born and raised close to the edge of poverty, Maisie has gained an education only through the lucky accident that the aristocratic family that employed her “in service” has given her opportunities for education and advancement closed to millions of others.
For further reading
I’ve reviewed all the novels in this series at The Maisie Dobbs novels from Jacqueline Winspear.
My review of Maisie Dobbs, the first novel in the series, is at A female detective like no other. The second, Birds of a Feather, is here: The cost of war hangs over the action like a shroud, and the third, Pardonable Lives, is here: Maisie Dobbs: living the legacy of World War I.
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