John Murray: This edition published October, 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill
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.
December 2006 review first published on Murder & Mayhem
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