I think that Among the Mad may have been my favorite Maisie Dobbs book yet - I just loved it, and I know I heard similar things from other read-along participants as well. This novel had everything we've come to expect from Jacqueline Winspear's acclaimed series - compelling character development, an intriguing case and thought-provoking historical and psychological detail and it was so suspenseful. I found myself reading far into the night to discover the perpetrator at the mystery's core - and even then, there were additional people to blame.
Among the Mad - from Jacqueline Winpear's website
Christmas Eve, 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the Prime Minister's office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met—and the writer mentions Maisie by name. Tapped by Scotland Yard's elite Special Branch to be a special adviser on the case, Maisie is soon involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict destruction on thousands of innocent people.
In Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear combines a heart-stopping story with a rich evocation of a fascinating period to create her most compelling and satisfying novel yet.
1) I know this was my favorite so far of the series - how did you feel overall about Among the Mad?
2) My favorite line in the novel was this one, delivered by Maisie to Stratton after the explosion on Christmas Eve: "Forgetting has never been of concern to me, Inspector. It's the remembering that gives me pause." Did you have a favorite, or how did you feel about this line?
3) Perhaps I missed something, but was anyone else surprised to find out, when Stratton is talking to Maisie about why she's needed on this particular case, that she has helped train detectives? "Your contribution to the training of our women detectives [at the Yard] has not gone unnoticed." Does anyone remember this from one of the earlier books?
4) It seemed to me that with MacFarlane (perhaps more so than with Stratton), Maisie may have met her match. I loved the scene where he called her on her habit of mirroring another person's movements to make them more comfortable and likely to talk. It was nice to see someone figuring out her tricks - so that she has to raise her game. What did you think of MacFarlane?
5) I was glad that Priscilla was more a part of this novel, and glad to see that Maisie is expanding her social world and putting herself out there, even socializing with the detectives at the Yard. Do you think we'll see a more social Maisie in future books?
6) The subplot surrounding Billy Beale and his wife is heartbreaking. It was interesting to see how the treatment of Mrs. Beale mirrored that of the asylum inmates who were injured by the war. I was glad that Maisie was able to help -- lord knows what would happen to most women of Mrs. Beale's station without the intervention of someone like Maisie -- and I hope that we see some hopeful resolution there soon.
We are moving ever closer to the newest book in the series, A Lesson in Secrets, which just went on sale this past week! We'll discuss the next book, The Mapping of Love and Death, which just won the Bruce Alexander Award, on Monday, April 11th. And I hope that everyone saw last week's announcement of our Book Club Girl on Air show with Jacqueline Winspear on Tuesday, April 26th at 7 pm ET. I can't wait to talk to her, with all of you, about this series we've delved into these past months.
I have 5 copies of The Mapping of Love and Death to give away to the first 5 people who comment that they still need it for our discussion on 4/11. I can't wait to hear what everyone thought of Among the Mad!