I'm so peased to kick off the discussion of Jacqueline Winspear's fourth Maisie Dobbs novel, Messenger of Truth! Maisie is back in England after an emotional trip to France for her last case brought her face to face with the demons of her past. Now, an old acquaintance from her days at Girton College calls on her for assistance.
MESSENGER OF TRUTH (From Jacqueline Winspear's website)
London, 1931. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a infamous figure in her own right, isn't convinced.
When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city's art world.
In Messenger of Truth, Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of Nick's death, Maisie will have to keep her head as the forces behind the artist's fall come out of the shadows to silence her.
I loved watching an ever-more independent Maisie in this novel, from her new flat ownership, to the occasional night out and the distance she is maintaining from her mentor Dr. Maurice Blanche.
1) What we all suspected at the end of Pardonable Lies does indeed come to pass in this novel, when Maisie at long last says goodbye to Dr. Andrew Dene. While it was pretty clear that it was coming, what did others think of their breakup? And given her increasingly contentious relationship with Detective Inspector Stratton, do we think that the two detectives are fated to be together?
2) I know that the sign outside her office reads "Psychologist and Investigator," but I was surprised to read in Chapter 3 that Maisie has clients with whom her function is purely that of a psychologist, not an investigator. "Some three hours later, having seen two more clients, one man and one woman seeking not her skill as an investigator but her psychologist's compassion and guidance as they spoke of fears, of concerns and despairs, she made her way home." I'd love to hear more about these very different cases. Was anyone else surprised by that?
3) It was interesting to see that the rift between Maisie and Maurice that occurred in Pardonable Lies remains in this novel - or, are we to see her growing independence from him as a good thing? I'm a bit torn actually. When Maisie reached the point in her investigation when she would have normally called on Maurice for assistance but decided not to do so, I felt that her pride, rather than her independence, was at work. What do you think?
4) As usual, Winspear's title takes on multiple meanings. What or who do you think are some of the messengers of truth in the novel?
5) Taking a page from Martha at Hey, I Want to Read That, I also made note of new words and Cockney slang I learned while reading this installment (and may I say this is made much easier when reading on a Nook!) So next time I find myself in the Smoke (London) I'm going to be sure to park the old jam jar (car) in an area that is salubrious (safe). What words or phrases were new to you?
Please join us on Monday, March 14th when we'll discuss the next book in the series, An Incomplete Revenge. And, for those of you reading along on your e-reader - An Incomplete Revenge and the book that follows it, Among the Mad, are available for a limited time in a 2-e-book bundle at a great price, thanks to Macmillan. (and if you're still catching up to us, note that there is also a specially priced bundle of Pardonable Lies and Messenger of Truth now available). Be sure to follow along in between our discussions with Jacqueline Winspear on Facebook.