In This Grave Hour is the thirteenth novel in Jacqueline Winspear's wonderful Maisie Dobbs series.
Winspear set the first book in 1929 England, ten years after the Great War. Maisie worked as a nurse in WWI, but has since trained as a psychologist and private investigator, opening her own agency.
The cases that Winspear creates in her novels are always interesting, timely and well plotted. This latest finds England on the cusp of WWII. Hence the title....
"In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history....for the second time in our lives for most of us, we are at war. King George VI, September 3, 1939."
Maisie has worked with government agencies in the past and is approached by a Secret Service agent. The assignment? To quietly investigate the death of a Belgian refugee who landed in England over twenty years ago. Winspear always includes a secondary plot as well. This time, it's the unknown identity of a child evacuee who is billeted with Maisie's father. No one knows her name and she won't speak.
I so enjoy the cases being solved the 'old-fashioned' way - with legwork, interviews, intuition and the careful piecing together of clues.
These books are a comfortable, almost genteel read, if you will. The social customs, manners and mores of the times are all faithfully observed in Winspear's writing. I enjoy being transported to this time period. Winspear does a bang-up job of bringing time and place to life. The sense of duty, loyalty and 'can-do' in the face of adversity and hardship.
But ultimately it is the character of Maisie that has me anticipating every new book in this series. Her quiet confidence, intelligence, compassion and bravery have endeared her to me. The supporting characters - family and co-workers are just as well drawn. It is that sense of settling down with an old friend that prefaces turning the first page in every new enter.
In This Grave Hour was another excellent read for me. Read an excerpt of In This Grave Hour.
If you've not read Winspear before, I recommend starting with the first book, simply titled Maisie Dobbs, to fully appreciated the continuing timeline. This is an excellent historical mystery series and definitely recommended. (Best read with a pot of tea and a cosy chair)