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Starred Review. Broadway and television veteran Cassidy continues the subtle, sharp vocal performance that earned her awards for the audio version of Winspear's last Maisie Dobbs mystery, Pardonable Lies. There's a lovely, old-fashioned lilt to Cassidy's reading, reminding listeners of the period (it's now 1931 in an England haunted at every level by the war that officially ended 14 years before). There's still a class battle going on, one that Maisie has straddled because of her unique background: a child of London's working class, put into service at 14, then rescued by a patroness who recognized her intelligence and sent her to study at Girton, Cambridge University's pioneering college for women. So Maisie can treat her working-class East London assistant with the same ease and understanding as she handles her current client—a woman from a wealthy, eccentric family whose twin brother, an important artist, was killed in a supposed accident. The bonus interview at the end with Winspear makes listeners realize how similar a mindset Maisie and the author possess. Cassidy and Dobbs are a match made in audio heaven.
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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.