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Winspear, Jacqueline - 'Messenger of Truth'
Hardback: 336 pages (Aug. 2006) Publisher: John Murray ISBN: 0719567378

MESSENGER OF TRUTH is the fourth in the very popular Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is a highly intelligent young woman taken at a young age under the wing of her father's employer who ensured she had a first class education. After serving as a nurse at the front in World War I, Maisie decides to go into business as a private detective.

In MESSENGER OF TRUTH, it's 1930 and Maisie is approached by Georgiania Bassington-Hope, the twin sister of a talented artist found dead. Apparently he had fallen off some scaffolding the night before a much-anticipated exhibition of his work. Her investigation into Nick's death takes Maisie into the Spartan world of a small group of artists living in a seaside town, the bohemian life of Nick's parents and the tumultuous society of "bright young things" of 1930 London. With the assistance of her ever-loyal assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie sets out to find the truth behind Nick's death.

The recurring theme in the Maisie Dobbs series is an examination of the effects of "The Great War" on British society. In MESSENGER OF TRUTH, Winspear has altered her focus a little to encompass social and political issues raised by the Depression. There are the affluent Bassington-Hopes, completely self-centred and blithely unconscious of the suffering of others less fortunate than themselves. And there is Billy Beale and his family, struggling to make ends meet after taking in his wife's family, after the breadwinner was unable to find work. This also allows the author to look at the crushing poverty, over-crowded housing and poor health created by such hardship.

Mystery purists might have some issues with the book as the whodunit element takes a back seat to social issues. There were a couple little things that felt a little forced. As if they didn't quite fit but the author felt they needed to be there, but in the end MESSENGER OF TRUTH will be warmly embraced by Winspear's many followers.

Sunnie Gill, Australia
January 2007

last updated 19/01/2007 15:42