A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Harper ISBN 9780062220554
Hardcover, $26.99, 352 pages
Readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of the Maisie Dobbs series of books by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie is a private investigator/psychologist working in London following WWI. She was a nurse stationed in France, where she saw the terrible things war does to people, including being injured herself.
A Dangerous Place is the 11th book in the series, and we pick up the story in 1937, four years after the last book ended. Maisie and her husband James are living in Canada, where James is working on planes for the government.
After a tragedy, Maisie decides to return to India to heal. When her stepmother wires Maisie asking her to return home to England, Maisie decides to go, but ends up in Gibraltar, a British garrison town off the coast of Spain.
Maisie discovers the dead body of a photographer, a Sephardic Jew, and feeling that the police aren't interested in finding the killer, Maisie uses her skills to solve the murder, and gets involved in a dangerous political situation.
Winspear always does a great deal of research for her books, and in this one, we learn a great deal about the Spanish Civil War, including the bombing of a marketplace in Guernica, where many women and children were killed by fascist forces. For someone who doesn't know much about the politics in Spain at this time, it is enlightening.
Since Maisie is alone in Gibraltar, we don't see many of our favorite characters from previous books- no Billy, no Priscilla, no Lady Rowan. I have to admit I miss Maisie's interactions with the characters I have grown to like. The only one who makes an appearance is Inspector MacFarlane, Maisie's sometimes nemesis, sometimes reluctant police partner.
At the end of the story, Maisie assists some nurses who are traveling to care for the men fighting the civil war. This part was most interesting for me, as Maisie seemed to come out of her funk, and was at her best organizing the makeshift hospital and helping the nurses care for the men under difficult conditions. It was a welcome callback to Maisie and her nursing days in France.
We'll have to wait until next year's book to find out if Maisie returns home and resumes her life as a private investigator. I can't say that this one was my favorite in the Maisie Dobbs series, but as always, I learned something about a time and place I knew little about, and that is always a good thing.