A Dangerous Place

Written by Jacqueline Winspear
Review by Marina Maxwell

Since leaving England and her investigation business behind, the life of Maisie Dobbs has been transformed, but at great cost. A double tragedy in Canada has her fleeing to the serenity of the Darjeeling hills in India until 1937, when a letter arrives from her stepmother urging her to return home.

Still suffering from doubt and anxiety, Maisie abruptly breaks her ocean voyage at Gibraltar, only to find herself drawn into a murder mystery after she stumbles over the body of a photographer in the gardens of her hotel. When she also discovers a discarded camera containing potentially incriminating photographs, it seems there is more to the case than an opportunistic assault by a Spanish refugee. It is the distraction Maisie desperately needs as she revives her dormant detective skills. As civil war rages across the border in Spain, she is drawn deeper into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

The craggy, picturesque landscape of Gibraltar is a refreshing change of scene, and there is the usual range of characters all hiding secrets, plus at least one familiar face and other echoes from Maisie’s past. Jacqueline Winspear’s consummate skill in writing crime stories with intricate psychological layers is proven yet again, and while perhaps this is not one of her strongest plots, fans of Maisie Dobbs will be glad to have her back – but they must be prepared for shocks and sadness.

Although fragile herself, Maisie still manages to find empathy for others as she keeps in mind the philosophies of her late mentor, to “look for the duality in everyone… to see the innocent within the guilty… and the victim within the perpetrator of a crime.” The ending has another surprise diversion but holds promise of more to come in this much-loved series.