Maisie Dobbs #6 Among the Mad | Jacqueline Winspear

Some of you may have noticed my absence over the past week or so. Every now and again I have a reading holiday when I ease back on reading time, but this week was more about a technology holiday. I simply needed a break from all the stimulation and attention demanded from computers, phones, tv’s and tablets.

What do I turn to when need a break from this crazy, crazy world?

Maisie Dobbs of course!

Maisie has become my comfort read. Although Maisie often deals with uncomfortable issues, it’s done so gently and thoughtfully that I’m left feeling soothed and calmed instead.

Among the Mad is the sixth book in this wonderful series set between the wars in London. Maisie was a nurse during WW1 and is scarred from her experiences. She has since trained to become a private detective specialising in psychological approaches to solving her crimes.

Many of her adventures centre around the after effects of WW1 on returning soldiers and nurses. This story is no different as it mixes personal issues with political issues.

The government has received threats against public safety from a wounded soldier bent on being heard. This leads Maisie and her colleagues on a search through the various factions forming in England expressing discontent with the establishment.

There is nothing difficult or alarming in this story. A vague melancholy hangs over most of the Maisie books despite Maisie’s charms and abilities.

For me this makes the perfect winter read.

It’s Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister’s office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met—and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard’s elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane’s personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case.

Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie’s trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia’s abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people. And before this harrowing case is over, Maisie must navigate a darkness not encountered since she was a nurse in wards filled with shell-shocked men.

In Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear combines a heart-stopping story with a rich evocation of a fascinating period to create her most compelling and satisfying novel yet.

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