Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book Review: A Dangerous Place

(Maisie Dobbs #11)

A Dangerous Place (2015) is the 11th novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s series about private investigator Maisie Dobbs; the Kindle version just now available at reduced price. (Probably to do with No 12 to be released in March 2016…)
Previously on this blog I have reviewed:

#7. The Mapping of Love and Death (2010)
#8. A Lesson in Secrets (2011)
#9. Elegy for Eddie (2012)
#10. Leaving Everything Most Loved (2013)

Because of the previous books being closely connected in time, it was a bit of a surprise to pick up A Dangerous Place and find it skipping ahead no less than four years in one swift move; only giving the reader short “rear mirrow” glimpses of dramatic events in Maisie’s life during those years. (Actually after reading the first chapter or two, I felt I had to check and make sure that I hadn’t missed a book or two in between! But no, I had not.)

It is 1937, and Maisie, on her way back to England after four eventful years abroad with memories of both love and loss and grief, decides that she’s still not ready to go back home. So she gets off the ship in Gibraltar, in spite of being warned that this is a dangerous place to be at the moment. Civil war is raging in Spain, and many people are fleeing from there to Gibraltar. A few days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Jewis community is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in this case, which also draws the attention of the British Secret Service.

Just as Maise seems to once again be at a crossroads in her life in this book, as reader I feel a bit “in two minds” as well. On the one hand, congrats to the author for avoiding getting stuck in the same kind of time-trap as for example Elizabeth George with her Lynley series; but on the other hand, I can’t help feeling that Winspear wrote her character into too much of a cosy corner, and eventually found that she had to “cheat” to get Maise out of there and back to being more of a tragic heroine again…

So I’m not really sure whether to wholeheartedly applaud this bold move by the author or not. But no doubt it does set Maisie more free to go off on future dangerous missions set in WWII environment in books to come. (The title of the next novel, to be released in March, is Journey to Munich.) And I guess this may also be as good a place as any for new readers to get aboard and get to know Maisie, even if they’re not sure they want to go back to the very beginning and read all the previous ten books.

4 comments:

  1. Hmm... I suppose it can easily happen to an author when writing a series that they "write themselves into a corner" and have to find a way of getting out there. Not sure I'd be happy with such a drastic change in direction, and leap in time.

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    1. Meike, I take it you haven't read any of the books in this series? I often find it extra tricky to write reviews of later books in a long series, as one does not want to reveal too much for those readers who might want to start from the beginning... With this series, I think it was really the direction in Maisie's 'private' life suggested in the previous few books that would have been difficult to continue... (Getting happily married and starting a family does not really mix very convincingly with continuing a career as female private investigator/secret agent in the 1930s...)

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  2. I love to find a series that i love to read from book to book. a few of the ones i have read, go about 6 months to a year out, but there were a few who did a time jump. that is fine with me..

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    1. I've had some "mixed feelings" with this series all along - it is well written and the time period well researched (I think), but I've always felt a sort of distance to the characters. Obviously I've found the books interesting enough to keep on reading, though! :)

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