Winspear, Jacqueline - 'A Lesson in Secrets'
Maisie Dobbs is an ex-nurse in the Great War, now working as a private investigator. Her love of learning was noticed by her wealthy employer when a child and she received the education that most children from the working classes did not even dream of. She was also mentored by Maurice Blanche whom she later learned worked for the government in a secret capacity.
Maisie is approached by colleagues of Maurice who ask her to help them to identify people who may not be working "in the interests of the Crown" at The College of St Francis which was set up to bring different nationalities together with the aim of developing world peace. Greville Liddicote, the College's founder is a well known pacifist and author of a book for children that was banned in the war for being subversive. Maisie is asked to apply for the post of Junior Lecturer in Philosophy and to identify any activities or people associated with the college that the authorities should be concerned about.
Maisie's lover, James, is on a long business trip to Canada, her associate, Billy, is well qualified to look after the business, so she agrees to the proposition. An old friend Sandra has fallen on hard times since the sudden death of her husband and Maisie offers her a home and a part-time job helping Billy with the administration of the business while she is away.
Soon after Maisie begins work at the College, Greville Liddicote is found brutally murdered, his assistant suddenly leaves the college and no trace can be found of her. Maisie is told to leave the murder enquiry to the police but she is convinced that it is linked to her task at the College. Sandra also disappears leaving a question mark over her husband's death which she had never accepted was an accident and Maisie tasks Billy with looking into both the death and Sandra's disappearance.
A LESSON IN SECRETS is another wonderful read featuring this interesting character. The setting of the early 1930s, the rise of fascism and the way this was viewed by government is fascinating. The view of those in power concerning the risks posed by pacifists is very relevant today and this book gives an insight into why the threat of Hitler's rise to power was not identified sooner.Recommended as a good read – a real treat.
Susan White, England