Psychologist and private investigator Maisie Dobbs (An Incomplete Revenge, 2008, etc.) returns for the sixth time in this bleak, haunting mystery.
Her almost preternatural intuition can tell Maisie there’s something broken in a wounded veteran seconds before he pulls the pin on a grenade, killing himself and stunning a street full of Christmas shoppers. Maisie is saved at the last moment by her diligent assistant, Billy Beale, but the Depression has hit Britain hard in the winter of 1931, and there are other desperate men still lurking. This is a London full of suffering souls, from Billy’s wife, Doreen, sick with grief over their lost daughter, to lonely Maisie herself. When an anonymous letter threatens more violence to come, Scotland Yard calls on Maisie to track down the would-be killer. Special Branch and Military Intelligence join them, sometimes cooperating, something butting heads, as they comb fascist meetings and asylums for someone capable of visiting the gruesome deaths of the Great War on innocent civilians. As the investigation closes inexorably on the madman in a race against the clock, Winspear manages to offer a final glimmer of hope among the despair.
The lamentation over economic crisis, terrorism and traumatized veterans feels both true to its setting and disquietingly contemporary. Well-crafted and well worth reading.