Cover image of "A Dangerous Place" by Jacqueline Winspear, a novel about people dispossessed by war

Her legal name is now Margaret, Lady Compton, but she still calls herself Maisie Dobbs. Having grown up in the London working-class neighborhood of Lambeth, Maisie is uncomfortable with the title. Widowed shortly after her marriage to the wealthy Lord James Compton, she has been abroad. She is fearful of returning to England, where unnerving memories await her. In a real sense, she is more comfortable among those dispossessed by war she encounters in Spain.

It’s now April 1937, and Maisie has alighted in Gibraltar. It’s “a place seething with those dispossessed by war across the border.” The Spanish Civil War is raging.

For years before leaving England in 1933, Maisie had operated as a “psychologist and investigator.” When she stumbles across a dead body shortly after arriving in Gibraltar, she’s unable to resist investigating the death. The police insist the victim, a local photographer who was a Sephardic Jew, had been murdered by a vagrant. Maisie is convinced otherwise. Her conviction, and her compulsion to act, lead her into a tangled mystery involving arms smugglers aiding the Republican forces in Spain’s civil war. The investigation takes her onto the front lines in Madrid, where the loyalist Republicans are valiantly resisting Francisco Franco’s Fascist legions. As the action unfolds, the German and Italian destruction of Guernica takes place.

A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by Jacqueline Winspear ★★★☆☆

I’ve read and enjoyed the ten previous novels in Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. I found A Dangerous Place less enjoyable because I had difficulty understanding Maisie’s thinking and the motivation of several other characters in the story. Why did she insist on investigating that murder? Why is the British secret service following her so closely? (Her father-in-law’s interest is unconvincing.) Who was the mysterious blond man who appeared in one of the photographer’s photos? Winspear’s answers to these questions weren’t satisfying.

I’ve reviewed all the novels in this series at The Maisie Dobbs novels from Jacqueline Winspear. One of my reviews is at Maisie Dobbs: living the legacy of World War I. You’ll find another at Class resentment in Depression-era England.

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