Thursday, July 30, 2009

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Title: Among the Mad
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
ISBN: 9780805082166, Henry Holt, 2009
Genre: Historical Mystery, Private Investigator, #6 Maisie Dobbs
Rating: A

First Line: Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, picked up her fountain pen to sign her name at the end of a final report that she and her associate, Billy Beale, had worked late to complete the night before.

It is Christmas Eve, 1931, in London, and Maisie Dobbs is walking down a city street. She sees a dirty, physically handicapped man sitting on the pavement, and there's something about the look on his face that makes her walk toward him to see if she can help.

The man detonates a bomb, killing himself and slightly wounding several others--including Maisie. In no time at all Maisie finds herself working with a special team out of Scotland Yard to discover the identity of a man who's sending very threatening letters to the Prime Minister. In a city filled with veterans of World War I who have been mentally disabled by their service but put out of hospitals with no pensions and no hopes of employment, Maisie is looking for a needle in a haystack. Somehow she manages to piece together a profile of the man sending the letters, but will they be able to find him before he carries out his threat?

The only writer outside of Jacqueline Winspear who I've found capable of putting me body and soul into this time period is Lyn Macdonald. Among the Mad can oftentimes be an upsetting book to read as Winspear describes a government which was completely comfortable using an entire generation of men as nothing but cannon fodder and then denying them the help, the employment and the pensions they so desperately needed--and earned. To a government that would say doing so would bankrupt the country, I would reply: hadn't the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of men already achieved that? As you can see, this book touched a nerve because history just keeps on repeating itself.

The time period isn't the real reason why I love these books, however. In fact, I have a friend who is also hooked on this series, and she doesn't care for the time period at all. You see, we both love Maisie Dobbs. In Among the Mad, the man writing those threatening letters explains it best:

She showed care. That is all I have asked for, these many years, that people are concerned, and that in their actions, they demonstrate care. It occurred to me that the woman did not wait for someone else to approach Ian. She did not ignore him. She walked toward him without looking in another direction. I noticed that. I have come to notice that people do not look at the Ians of this world, but instead turn their heads here and there.

If you want to be immersed in another time, read Winspear's series. If you want to solve intriguing mysteries, read Winspear's series. If you want to read about a woman who cares Winspear's series.


  1. I've never liked the sound of this series...until make it sound very tempting Cathy.

  2. Unlike Bernadette, I've always wanted to read this series. I'm not sure why I haven't jumped in.

    I like the new banner picture but, alas, that's not me and Mr. BFR anymore. I get very sick when I try to read in the car.

  3. I am waiting for the library to get the next book, could it be this one, anyway love her books

  4. Hands down, the Maisie Dobbs series, is one of my favorite and it's because of the main character. I almost don't even think of them as mysteries.

    Now to wait for the next one right? :)

  5. I LOVE this series! I've blogged about it several times.
    Jacqueline Winspear is an amazing author.
    The series, in my opinion, is flawless. I'm listening to it in my car and the narrator just adds another dimension to these novels. My favorite character, aside from Maisie, is Billy Beale.

  6. I love the series, and this one is my favorite (so far)!

  7. This sounds fabulous got me hooked from the start. I really must read her work. Thank you!

  8. Bernadette--I hope I've tempted you to give it a try. I know it's not for everyone, but I really enjoy this series.

    Beth--I knew I was running a risk when I posted this particular piece of art, but it reminds me of me! LOL

    Blodeuedd--You're a fan, too. Yes!!

    Iliana--Come to think of it, I almost don't think of them as mysteries either. Ah yes...the wait. It's one of the few series I'm actually caught up with!

    Kathy--She really is! Billy is a favorite of mine, too.

    Jenclair--And yet another fan...Yes!!

    Wisteria--You're very welcome!

  9. I'm going to have to read this series. The character and the time period both appeal to me. Great review!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. I must admit that I read the first in this series and didn't love it, so I didn't continue (though the over-reaching plotline that I assume goes through all the books sounds fascinating). I think I was slightly turned off by Maisie Dobbs just trying to stand or sit with the same posture of other people in the story, and then somehow gaining full insight into their thoughts and emotions. Seemed a bit odd to me, but maybe I should give her another chance.

  11. I think ... I'm going to read Winspear's series. :)

    I wonder how it is in audio. I'm on the lookout for another good series that translates well to audio.

  12. Anna--Thanks!

    Aarti--I have to admit that Maisie mimicking the posture of others bothered me, too, but it's something that's not an issue in the later books.

    Belle--I'm not an audio gal, so I can't help you with that one. I just hope you enjoy Maisie, too!

  13. I've never heard one bad thing about this series but I haven't had a chance to pick it up. Personally, I love that time period so I may have to soon.

  14. Jen--I know the world is crammed to the gills with books we want to read, but I seriously hope you find the time to try one of the books in this series!

  15. I've just written about this book on my blog, and did a search to see if anyone else had read it. I'd like to add a link to your review, if that is alright.


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