A LESSON IN SECRETS by Jacqueline Winspear

Book Quote:

“As with a tapestry, some crimes proved to be true masterpieces of deception. And she knew from experience that when a life had been taken in the act of murder, there were few black and white places, only gray shadows in which the truth lingered—and truth sometimes held only a passing connection to fact.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky  (APR 23, 2011)

The year is 1932 and the scars of World War I are far from healed. The specter of Nazism has begun to cast its shadow, and England  has its share of “homegrown Fascists” who enthusiastically promote the aims of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Government officials are even more leery of pacifists, whose desire for peace at any price could undermine the morale of “the men in the ranks.” Against this backdrop of political and social turmoil, Maisie Dobbs keeps busy running her successful private inquiry agency, ably assisted by the conscientious Billy Beale. She is a professional by choice, since she has “a good measure of financial independence, having inherited wealth” from her former mentor, Maurice Blanche. Although Maisie has more than enough to do, Brian Huntley of Special Branch asks her to undertake a top secret mission. She will teach philosophy to undergraduates at the College of St. Francis in Cambridge, while being on the lookout for any activities that are “not in the interests of the Crown.”

When one of the college’s most prominent individuals is murdered, Detective Chief Superintendent Robbie MacFarlane warns Maisie to steer clear of the investigation. However, she cannot resist using her formidable investigative skills to find the killer. In addition, the generous Maisie plans to help Billy and his wife, Doreen, get settled in a new home. Another person she would like to assist is Sandara Tapley, a twenty-four year old widow whose husband died under mysterious circumstances. To make matters even more complicated, Maisie frequently thinks about her absent lover, James Compton, and wonders if they are really meant to be together.

A Lesson in Secrets is another strong entry in this outstanding series. Not only does Ms. Winspear capture the atmosphere, language, and climate of the early thirties in England, but she also manages to create an involving and complex plot with a large and varied cast of characters. She does all this with consummate grace and style, effortlessly balancing at least three or four subplots without confusing or irritating the reader.

This book has something for everyone: romance, espionage, and intrigue, all packaged entertainingly for those who enjoy intelligent and literate works of fiction enhanced by excellent descriptive writing. What a pleasure it is to observe Maisie compassionately and conscientiously fighting for women’s rights, the oppressed, and those who need a tireless advocate to champion their cause. And of course, she tracks down villains, most of whom do not stand a chance against this intrepid, highly intelligent, and determined woman.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 99 readers
PUBLISHER: Harper; First Edition edition (March 22, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Jacqueline Winspear
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

Pardonable Lies

Messenger of Truth

Among the Mad

The Mapping of Love and Death


April 23, 2011 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

2 Responses

  1. Roger Brunyate - April 30, 2011

    “The year is 19xx and the scars of World War I are far from healed.” I wonder how many other books Jacqueline Winspear can write that can be reviewed in this way? There is a great deal I like about her heroine, her writing, and her series (not to forget her book covers!), but it had struck me several books back that she had visited this well too often already.

  2. booklover10 - May 3, 2011

    Roger, you have a point; Winspear has been covering the same ground for a while now. Still, Maisie is such a strong and compelling character that I am willing to stick with her for the time being.

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