Elegy for Eddie

Written by Jacqueline Winspear
Review by Helene Williams

In this latest outing for Maisie Dobbs, Winspear’s thoughtful and plucky detective returns to her roots across the river in London, to the stables and outdoor markets of her youth. Eddie was always a fixture in the area, known to be a bit slow, but able to work magic with temperamental and sick horses. When he is killed in a paper factory accident, his costermonger friends are sure there was foul play. Eddie’s behavior had been erratic of late, and he was clearly worried about something. Maisie’s investigation to determine if Eddie was murdered, and if so, by whom, takes her deep into political and military territory, where she finds a bigger, much more disturbing truth.

The uncertainty of the post-Great War peace is mirrored in Maisie’s personal life; her relationship with James Compton gets a bit rocky as she tries to determine if a married society woman is really who she wants to be. Her steadfast employee and friend, Billy Beale, runs into danger while investigating Eddie’s death, and his wife Doreen pushes Maisie away. Add to that some unsettling behavior from series regulars Priscilla and Douglas Partridge, and it’s no wonder Maisie wants to go home to her flat and not answer the phone or the door. Multiple levels of instability and complex situations lead Maisie to some deep introspection as she tries to make sense of events political, professional, and personal.

Winspear may be setting the stage for her class-crossing meditating detective to strike out in a new direction, or perhaps Maisie is just undergoing some growing pains. Whatever the case, the story is, as usual, well-told, with plenty of details about 1930s life, from the servants to the London smoke to the (to us) scary state of medicine, to keep us well entertained.