Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Lesson In Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs Series, Book 8)

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

Completion Date: January 23, 2011
Reason for reading: Received an ARC from Harper Collins through NetGalley (And, to carry on with series.)
“A detective series to savor.”—Time

In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’s career goes in an exciting new direction when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities “not in the interests of His Majesty’s Government.”

When the college’s controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote’s death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.

To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain’s conduct during the war, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.

A pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs, A Lesson In Secrets marks the beginning of her intelligence work for the Crown. As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, Maisie will confront new challenges and new enemies—and will engage new readers and loyal fans of this bestselling mystery series.
I really like this series! I bought the first book a few years back and really enjoyed it, but it wasn't until I joined the library again that I really got a chance to read the series. It is one of few series I am caught up in! I actually read 5 books in the series in 2009. That is pretty much unheard of for me and is a good indication about how much I enjoy the series. I am very picky about mystery series, but I really like the time in which this one is set. Winspear writes in such a way that the time really comes alive and the characters with it. Every time I open a book by her I expect to visit with new friends and I have not been disappointed yet.

This book is starting to deal with the dawn of World War II. Adolf Hitler is in power in Germany and people are starting to talk. Some people believe that he is what is needed for Britain. This is making the British government and Crown a bit nervous. There is one school that advocates peace in Cambridge and brings in aliens from all over the world to study there. The powers that be really start to become suspicious of this and call on Maisie Dobbs to pose as a teacher and determine if everything at the school is above the mark or if there really is cause for concern. I really believe Winspear caught this time very well. People may look back and say they never liked Hitler and were always suspicious, but the reality is that many people admired what he stood for in the beginning. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Then, there is Maisie. The modern woman. Her life changed drastically in the previous novel when the death of her mentor and teacher left her very well-off. In this book she is still coming to terms with that drastic change in circumstance and is using her change in status to help others out. She is also grappling with a new relationship with an old family friend. She is also a woman of the times. She has the chance to work for herself and be independent, but she also worries what falling in love and marrying will do to her future. I believe it is a very real concern that many woman had following the First World War and their changes in lifestyle. It would reappear again when the world is at war once again.

The book also includes some of the wonderful supporting characters. There is Billy, Maisie's assistant, who was injured during the war and is expecting his 4th child with his wife Doreen. He is one of those that Maisie is determined to help. Then, Susan, a woman a bit younger than Maisie who was in previous books reappears to add a bit of intrigue to an all ready full plate. There is Maisie's best friend, her lover, members of the police, and lots of new characters that Winspear manages to weave in expertly. She always finds a way for her supporting characters to have their time and develop their story. In this one we even learn that Maisie's father may be courting. I just really enjoy that the books are about more than just the cases. I don't think I would like the series if it was any other way.

Once again I recommend this series. It is one of my favourite historical mysteries on the market and I cannot wait until the next book!

This book is being released today, so rush out and buy it! I know that I will be!

The Series:
Maisie Dobbs (read in 2008)
Birds of a Feather (read in 2009)
Pardonable Lies (read in 2009)
Messenger of Truth (read in 2009)
An Incomplete Revenge (read in 2009)
Among the Mad (read in 2009)
A Lesson in Secrets

***Note: The first book in this series is one of the books I challenged Marg, from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader, to read in 2011. I look forward to her thoughts!


  1. I tried to skim your review just because I can't wait to read this one! It is one of my favorite series as well. What always strikes me so much about these books is that I don't really read them for the mystery but for the character and setting. There is just something so real and appealing. Glad to hear this is another winning entry in the series!

  2. I'm going to request the first one from the library. I'm really embracing mysteries this year. :P

  3. *Iliana: I really enjoy this series! I am looking forward to, hopefully, another book next year. It is one of the few series I am caught up in and I only even started reading it in like 2008 or 9...

    *Amy: I hope you enjoy this series! I do!

  4. Love this series and am excited that a new Maisie Dobbs is available. This one also appears to fall into a fascinating historical period. Like Iliana, I skimmed your review because I'm not going to miss a new installment of Maisie Dobbs.

  5. I have book one in this series but haven't read it YET!!! Geesh..I'm starting to sound like a broken record with all the books I own but have not read!

  6. This seems right up my alley, I love interwar novels.

  7. *jenclair: I hope you love it! I find the series gets better and better!

    *Staci: I sound like the same broken record. lol

    *Alexandra: It's a great series!


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