A Dangerous Place is the latest (#11) entry in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.
The opening first pages of A Dangerous Place were quite jarring - a great tragedy has befallen Maisie. I won't spoil it for you, but this loss devastates her. (And truly this reader as well - I'm saddened at this turn of events.) So much so, that she has no desire to return to England - instead she only gets as far as Gibraltar. It's 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is underway.
I've always enjoyed the slow building and piecing together of clues on the road to the final reveal in Winspear's novels. The path is never a straight line from A to B which is of course what makes a great mystery. In A Dangerous Place the route to the end is quite roundabout and busy - a bit too much in my opinion. Winspear has grown the series - and Maisie - with new directions taken in the past few books.
There is of course a dead body in A Dangerous Place (every mystery needs one!) But, the ensuing investigation is a political cat and mouse game with watchers watching the watched. And sadly, I became tired of it. What I really enjoyed was what I have enjoyed in previous Maisie books - the slow coming to answers with interviews, visits and Maisie's case map. This is still present in A Dangerous Place. But what I didn't like was the political cat and mouse games and the duplicity of almost every character. It was, well, just too much. This may just be my bias - I am not a 'spy novel' fan.
Winspear's descriptions of time and place are excellent. Maisie walks the streets of Gibraltar many times - I could vividly picture the old women mending their nets, Mr. Solomon's haberdashery and Mr. Salazar's cafe, as she visits these locations many times. (And it's always fun to see a mention of a place in Canada that I'm familiar with - however brief!)
It's always interesting to see why or when a title was chosen for a book. This one has a great quote from Albert Einstein in the epigraph....."The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." And this completely defines Maisie - she is one of the people who 'do'. This quality is one of the main reasons I have come to enjoy this character so much - her determination, her intellect, her compassion, her curiosity and her inability to let injustice go unnoticed.
"...he taught me about duty, about doing all in our power to bring a sense of...a sense of rest and calm to those left behind. I was - I am, I suppose - an advocate for the dead."
I found the ending quite satisfying - it was a 'return to roots' for Maisie. I will be very curious to see where Winspear takes her character from here. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series - this is a character and author that I do quite like. A Dangerous Place is a good read (here's an excerpt for you) but isn't my favourite in the series. Readers new to this author will want to start at the beginning to fully come to appreciate this character.
"Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book." Find out more about Jacqueline at her website and find her on Facebook.
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