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Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel [Paperback]

Jacqueline Winspear
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 12 2007 Maisie Dobbs Mysteries (Book 4)
 
Sue Feder/Macavity Award for Best Historical Mystery Award Nominee
 
London, 1931. On the night before the opening of his new and much-anticipated exhibition at a famed Mayfair gallery, Nicholas Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police declare it an accident, but the dead man's twin sister, Georgina, isn't convinced. When the authorities refuse to conduct further investigations, Georgina takes matters into her own hands, seeking out a fellow graduate from Girton College: Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator.
 
The case soon takes Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, as well as the sinister underbelly of the city's art world. She again uncovers the dark legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself in difficult times. But to solve the mystery of the artist's death, she will have to remain steady as the forces behind his death come out of the shadows to silence her.
 
Jacqueline Winspear delivers another vivid, thrilling, and utterly unique episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs.

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From Publishers Weekly

In Winspear's winning fourth historical to star British psychologist and PI Maisie Dobbs (after 2005's Pardonable Lies), Georgiana Bassington-Hope, a pioneering female war reporter who was a classmate of Maisie's at Girton College (Cambridge), asks Maisie to investigate the death of her twin brother, Nicholas Bassington-Hope, a WWI veteran and artist. The police have ruled Nick's fall from a scaffold at a Mayfair gallery before his masterpiece could be unveiled an accident, but Georgiana suspects foul play. As Maisie delves into the art world and the dead man's unusual family, the author provides an insightful look at class divisions and dangerous political undercurrents of homegrown fascism in early 1930s Britain. Some might wish that the whodunit side of the story was more developed, but fans of quality period fiction will be well satisfied. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Class divisions and the trauma of war are compelling themes in Winspear's fourth offering featuring psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs (following Pardonable Lies, 2005). Dobbs, who earned a degree from Cambridge and served as a nurse during World War I, employs both meditation and intuition to crack difficult cases. (Her suspicions are often manifested in a "sensation at the nape of her neck, as if a colony of ants were beating a path from one shoulder to the other.") The novel opens in late 1930, as Georgina Bassington-Hope, a well-to-do former wartime journalist, consults Maisie following the death of her twin brother, Nick, a painter commissioned to design war propaganda after sustaining injuries in combat. (Georgina doubts police reports that claim her brother fell from scaffolding while installing a major exhibition at a local gallery.) As Maisie searches for clues among Georgina's relatives, she grows increasingly troubled by the family's shameless extravagance during trying economic times. A cast of vivid characters and plenty of rich period detail boost Winspear's somewhat lethargic plot. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Masie Dobbs Dec 2 2013
By Michal
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I truly love this series. I adore the characters and am so sorry to see the series come to a close. I'm hoping that Ms. Winspear decides to pick up her pen and plot another chapter in the life of Masie et. al.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A TELLING PORTRAIT OF POSTWAR ENGLAND Sept. 14 2006
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Those who had the good fortune to read or hear the first story in Jacqueline Winspear's acclaimed series (Maisie Dobbs 2003) were immediately won by an indomitable heroine. Believe those were close to the words I wrote at that time and I've not changed my mind - not one whit.

Voice performer Orlagh Cassidy narrated the second in the series, Pardonable Lies, and for this she won and AudioFile Earphones Award. She gives another award winning performance with her narration of Messenger of Truth. She has that rare ability to give life to individual characters with a vocal nuance, and perfectly capture the accents of 1930s England. She's a pleasure!

As many will remember Maisie is an investigator and in this, the fourth in the Maisie Dobbs series, she's retained to investigate the death of well known artist Nick Bassington-Hope. Nick died when he fell while hanging one of his works of art for an exhibition relating to the Great War. The question is, was his death an accident or was it planned by someone who pushed him as he worked?

Maisie is hired by Nick's sister who isn't willing to accept Scotland Yard's decision that it was an accident. This investigation takes Maisie, who came from humble beginnings as a housemaid, into a strata of society with which she is not familiar.

The author's portrait of postwar England is well worth the listen; the mystery is frosting on the cake.

- Gail Cooke
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid Mystery without blood and thunder Sept. 2 2009
Format:Paperback
Jacqueline Winspeare's detective, Maisie Dobbs, is plainly an dsimply splendid. Her interpretation of the early 1930's is faultless and her plots are fit for Sherlock Holme's to face. And brave Maisie facess up and uses her mind and instinct with beautful effectiveness. A truly good old-fashioned detective story without the violenece that disfigures so much of today's writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  97 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Nick's art was his exorcism...Every time a picture was born of his memory, it was as if something dark was laid to rest." Sept. 12 2006
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Set in post-World War I England, the Maisie Dobbs mysteries keep getting better and better--more fully developed, more complex, and more illustrative of life in that between-wars era. In this fourth novel, Maisie, a former army nurse, now in her late twenties, is an "inquiry agent," or private detective, who has been contacted by wealthy Georgina Bassington-Hope following the death of her brother Nick. Nick, a highly regarded artist, died in a fall from the scaffolding he was using to mount a new exhibition, and Georgina, defying her family and the police report, believes he was pushed.

Using straight-forward, workmanlike prose, author Jacqueline Winspear develops the story and a motley cast of characters which offers a broad cross section of the society between world wars--from the wealthy Bassington-Hopes, who can afford to be frivolous in their arty lives, to the family of Billy Beale, a poor man who supports his large family as Maisie's assistant. The exotic world of artists, gallery owners, and buyers, comes alive, as does the world of fishermen on the Kentish coast, where Nick Bassington-Hope has his studio, and the reader quickly develops an awareness of the stratification pervading society and the concern for one's "place" in it.

As Maisie begins her investigation of Nick's death, Winspear juggles several overlapping plot threads simultaneously. Nick's exhibition was to feature his "masterpiece," thought to be a triptych about his experiences in the war, a work of art so secret no one has ever seen it--and no one has found it since his death. The relationships of Nick Bassington-Hope with his family and friends; the problems of Billy Beale's family in an overcrowded and unhealthy tenement; Maisie's new suitor and romance; the centuries-long history of smuggling on the Kentish coast; and the search for Nick's missing masterpiece keep the action lively from beginning to end, with plenty of tugs at the heartstrings as sorrowful events, some associated with the war, unfold.

Maisie, as proper and chaste as the heroines of novels actually written in the 1930s, is imaginative and independent, always polite and "lady-like." Genuinely fond of Billy Beale's family, she nevertheless maintains a professional distance as his employer, not wanting to insult his pride. The novel feels "cozy," in its intimacy and family orientation, with care paid to characters' feelings and domestic conflicts. Though the novel has moments of excitement, the reader is left, at the end, with as much appreciation for its old-fashioned charm as for its mystery. n Mary Whipple
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dry watershed June 24 2007
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is Jacqueline Winspear's fourth novel about Maisie Dobbs, "psychologist and investigator." Fans of the series may be slightly disappointed, but should still enjoy it. First-time readers will wonder what all the fuss is about. For, as I suspected already in the third novel, PARDONABLE LIES, the narrative span is becoming difficult to sustain over four books.

But Winspear's sense of period seldom lets her down, and there are still many interesting things here: her view of the vibrant art scene between the wars or the heady night world of jazz clubs and cocktails, contrasted with the effect of the Depression on the out-of-work poor and the lamentable state of public health. And those parts of the story which have to do with the rags-to-riches rise of the heroine (housemaid, war nurse, Cambridge graduate, private investigator) are mercifully shorter -- though Maisie's emotional problems would mean very little to those who had not read the earlier books. But Winspear seems caught on a difficult watershed: on the one hand, continuing to write about the legacy of the First War, which no longer has the resonance that it had in her first books; on the other, exploring the life of a nation moving inexorably towards the Second. There are aspects of both here, but they do not blend easily. If she is to continue, the author needs to move forward rather than back -- and also develop the inner life of her heroine so as to make her interesting for who she is now, rather than as the product of previous books in the series.

Readers who want to read more about the role of artists in the first War -- an important element in this book -- might be interested in REGENERATION by Pat Barker. Although Barker's novel deals with poets (Sassoon and Owen among them) rather than painters, it tackles head-on the conflict between war's brutality and artistic sensitivity, which has been a persistent theme in Winspear's books, and a moving one.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better and Better Feb. 5 2007
By Catriona White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book, and had to contribute my two cents. I loved this book! I think it is the best yet in a series that is head and shoulders above most mystery series. Maisie, already a complex character to begin with, becomes richer and deeper in this recent book. So many facets of the deepening worldwide depression are interwoven with the echoes of World War 1, even as faint echoes of the rise of fascism in Germany are making themselves felt, creating a many-layered mystery. In response to the reviewer who felt that Maisie was not as likeable in this book, I did not find that to be the case at all. I DID notice something of that transformation in the previous book in this series, Pardonable Lies, but then, Maisie was undergoing something of an emotional breakdown at that juncture, making it a somewhat darker book. In this book, Maisie seemed to be back on track, and beginning to open to new ideas and possibilities which perhaps the author will explore in later books. I can't wait for the next one!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a little plodding but still a fun read Aug. 27 2006
By tregatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The fourth installment in the ever popular Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, "Messenger of Truth" may not be as thrilling and as riveting as "Birds of a Feather" (still my favourite entry in this series), but it stands up well and made for an absorbing and enjoyable read.

When her twin brother, Nicholas, falls to his death while mounting his latest work for an upcoming exhibition, journalist Georgina Bassington-Hope refuses to believe that Nicholas' death is an accident. Instead, she's certain that Nicholas was murdered. Talented and single-minded, Nicholas was well known for upsetting and angering people with his opinions and his art. The police, however, are quite satisfied that Nicholas' death was an accident; and because she cannot get them to reopen the case, Georgina seeks out Maisie's help in discovering who murdered Nicholas and why. Soon, Maisie is delving into the unfamiliar world of artists and night clubs in an attempt to understand Nicholas, his work and what happened the last few hours before he met his death. Was Nicholas murdered because of his art, or because he was involved in something nefarious and dangerous...

While I can see why the previous reviewer was disappointed with this latest Maisie Dobbs installment, I rather enjoyed "Messenger of Truth" myself. Not only was the mystery subplot a very intriguing and tantalising one, but a wonderful bonus here for me, I thought that Jacqueline Winspear did a fantastic job of capturing the darkness and excesses of the period. "Messenger of Truth" takes place in the early 1930s, when fascism was on the rise, but while Winspear touches on this lightly, she focuses more on the grim realities of that the poor faced -- lack of jobs, disease and poverty -- and the obliviousness of the moneyed and powerful and their pursuit of pleasure and divertment. This social commentary makes a nice counterpoint to the mystery at hand of who killed Nick Bassington-Hope and why. Unlike the previous reviewer, however, I did not think that Maisie has become a money chasing social climber. The very fact that she faces and questions her sudden enjoyment of luxuries and pleasurable divertments points to the fact that Maisie's character isn't about to undergo a fundamental change. I rather wished, though, that the unfolding of the mystery subplot had been a little more even, more clear-cut, more developed, and more energetic. Winspear's brilliant use of vivid imagery, period detail, atmosphere and introspection, however, made up quite a bit for this lack. All in all, "Messenger of Truth" was an enjoyable and fairly absorbing read that fans and newcomers are sure to enjoy.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unforgivably dull! June 23 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the fourth Maisie Dobbs book I've read, and while I really enjoyed the first three, this book was very boring. I couldn't wait for it to end. In fact, by the end, I didn't even care who murdered Nicholas! The whole story felt poorly conceived, with events and people sort of thrown together randomly - and then the ending popped out of nowhere. I just don't think it was well written.
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