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Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries)

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Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries) Cover

ISBN13: 9780805082166
ISBN10: 0805082166
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Early September 1931

MaisieDobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, picked up her fountain pen to sign her name at the end of a final report that she and her assistant, Billy Beale, had worked late to complete the night before. Though the case was straightforward – a young man fraudulently using his uncle's good name to acquire all manner of goods and services, and an uncle keen to bring his nephew back on the straight and narrow without the police being notified – Maisie felt it was time for Billy to become more involved in the completion of a significant document and to take more of an active part in the final interview with a client. She knew how much Billy wanted to emigrate to Canada, to take his wife and family away from London's dark depression, and the cloud of grief that still hung over them following the death of their daughter, Lizzie, almost a year earlier. To gain a good job in a new country he would need to build more confidence in his work and himself, and seeing as she had already made inquiries on his behalf – without his knowledge – she knew greater dexterity with the written and spoken word would be an important factor in his success. Now the report was ready to be delivered before the Christmas holiday began.

"Eleven o'clock, Billy – just in time, eh?" Maisie placed the cap on her fountain pen and passed the report to her assistant, who slid it into an envelope and secured it with string. "As soon as this appointment is over, you should be on your way, so that you can spend the rest of the day with Doreen and the boys – it'll be nice to have Christmas Eve at home."

"That's good of you, Miss." Billy smiled, then went to the door where he took Maisie's coat and his own from the hook.

Maisie packed her document case before reaching under the desk to bring out a wooden orange crate. "You'll have to come back to the office first though."

"What's all this, Miss?" Billy's face was flushed as he approached her desk.

"A Christmas box for each of the boys, and one for you and Doreen." She opened her desk drawer and drew out an envelope. "And this is for you. We had a bit of a rocky summer, but things picked up and we've done quite well – plus we'll be busy in the new year – so this is your bonus. It's all well-earned, I must say."

Billy reddened. "Oh, that's very good of you, Miss. I'm much obliged. This'll cheer up Doreen."

Maisie smiled in return. She did not need to inquire about Billy's wife, knowing the depth of the woman's melancholy. There had been a time, at the end of the summer, when a few weeks spent hop-picking in Kent had put a bloom on the woman's cheeks, and she seemed to have filled out a little, looking less gaunt. But in London again, the routine of caring for her boys and keeping up with the dressmaking and alterations she took in had not lifted her spirits in any way. She ached for the milky softness of her daughter's small body in her arms.

Maisie looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. "We'd better be off."

They donned coats and hats and wrapped up against the chill wind that whistled around corners and blew across Fitzroy Square as they made their way towards Charlotte Street. Dodging behind a horse and cart, they ran to the other side of the road as a motor car came along in the opposite direction. The street was busy, with people rushing this way and that, heads down against the wind, some with parcels under their arms, others simply hoping to get home early. In the distance, Maisie noticed a man – she could not tell whether he was young or old – sitting on the pavement, leaning against the exterior wall of a shop. Even with some yards between them, she could see the grayness that enveloped him, the malaise, the drooping shoulders, one leg outstretched so passers-by had to skirt around him. His damp hair was slicked against his head and cheeks, his clothes were old, crumpled, and he watched people go by with a deep red-rimmed sadness in his eyes. One of them stopped to speak to a policeman, and turned back to point at the man. Though unsettled by his dark aura, Maisie reached into her bag for some change as they drew closer.

"Poor bloke – out in this, and at Christmas." Billy shook his head, and delved down into his coat pocket for a few coins.

"He looks too drained to find his way to a soup kitchen, or a shelter. Perhaps this will help." Maisie held her offering ready to give to the man.

They walked just a few steps and Maisie gasped, for it was as if she was at once moving in slow motion, as if she were in a dream where people spoke but she could not hear their words. She saw the man move, put his hand into the inside pocket of his threadbare greatcoat, and though she wanted to reach out to him, she was caught in a vacuum of muffled sound and constrained movement. She could see Billy frowning, his mouth moving, but could not make him understand what she had seen. Then the sensation, which had lasted but a second or two, lifted. Maisie looked at the man some twenty or so paces ahead of them, then at Billy again.

"Billy, go back, turn around and go back along the street, go back ...."

"Miss, what's wrong? You all right? What do you mean, Miss?"

Pushing against his shoulder to move him away, Maisie felt as if she were negotiating her way through a mire. "Go back, Billy, go back ..."

And because she was his employer, and because he had learned never to doubt her, Billy turned to retrace his steps in the direction of Fitzroy Square. Frowning, he looked back in time to see Maisie holding out her hand as she walked towards the man, in the way that a gentle person might try to bring calm to an enraged dog. Barely four minutes had passed since they walked past the horse and cart, and now here she was ....

The explosion pushed up and outwards into the Christmas Eve flurry, and in the seconds following there was silence. Just a crack in the wall of normal, everyday sound, then nothing. Billy, a soldier in the Great War, knew that sound, that hiatus. It was as if the earth itself had had the stuffing knocked out of it, had been throttled into a different day, a day when a bit of rain, a gust of wind and a few stray leaves had turned into a blood-soaked hell.

"Miss, Miss . . ." Billy picked himself up from the hard flagstones and staggered back to where he had last seen Maisie. The silence became a screaming chasm where police whistles screeched, smoke and dust filled the air and blood was sprayed up against the crumbling brick and shards of glass that was once the front of a shop where a man begged for a few coins outside.

"Maisie Dobbs! Maisie . . . Miss . . ." Billy sobbed as he stumbled forward. "Miss ..." he screamed again.

"Over 'ere, mate. Is this the one you're looking for?"

In the middle of the road a costermonger was kneeling over Maisie, cradling her head in one hand and brushing blood away from her face with the kerchief he'd taken from his neck. Billy ran to her side.

"Miss ... Miss ..."

"I'm no doctor, but I reckon she's a lucky one – lifted off her feet and brought down 'ere. Probably got a nasty crack on the back of 'er noddle though."

Maisie coughed, spitting dust-filled saliva from her mouth. "Oh, Billy ... I thought I could stop him. I thought I would be in time. If only we'd been here earlier, if only –"

"Don't you worry, Miss. Let's make sure you're all right before we do anything else."

Maisie shook her head, began to sit up and brushed her hair from her eyes and face. "I think I'm all right – I was just pulled right off the ground." She squinted and looked around at the melee. "Billy, we've got to help. I can help these people. . . ." She fell backwards again, then tried to stand.

The costermonger and Billy assisted Maisie to her feet. "S

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Bookwomyn, April 13, 2009 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
Winspear delivers again. The Maisie books are wonderful and I enjoyed this one very much. Far from simplistic, as could be the case with books which follow one after the other based on the same character, this protaganist has intelligence, depth and personality.
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katknit, March 8, 2009 (view all comments by katknit)
Fifteen years after the close of WWI, psychologist/investigator Maisie Dobbs finds herself reliving old horrors from the days when she served as a nurse in military mental wards. “Shell shock”, the generic term for psychological damage incurred on the battlefield, is a relatively new concept, and, sad to say, the government has essentially washed its hands of the hundreds of thousands of former soldiers who suffered nerve damage and crippling neurosis. Now, as 1931 draws to a close, the Great Depression has magnified the deprivation and desperation of these lost men. And one of them has decided to fight back, with weapons only he is capable of devising. Seconded to the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, Maisie takes her spot on an elite team who must race against the clock and the machinations of the unknown killer. Using her unique experiences and perceptual talents, she must re-immerse herself into the world of those who have lost their souls. But who is more “mad”, the victims of the war, or those who refuse to ameliorate the suffering? Author Winspear does an admirable job of dramatizing the central issues of this novel, from depression to government corruption and the self imposed blindness of society. (The subject of chemical warfare is particularly timely.) Her characters, as usual, are infused with credibility. Maisie, of course, accepts her responsibilities and never deviates from her ideals and principals. Sometimes one wishes that her formidable self discipline would totter a bit, but there are some cracks becoming visible in the shell that she needed to erect to survive. Among the Mad is a fine addition to an engaging and relevant series.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805082166
Author:
Winspear, Jacqueline
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co.
Author:
Cassidy, Orlagh
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Traditional British
Subject:
World War, 1914-1918
Subject:
Veterans
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Historical
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Mystery
Subject:
Detective / Women Sleuths
Subject:
Detective/Traditional British
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Maisie Dobbs Novels
Series Volume:
No. 6
Publication Date:
20090217
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 cds/9 hrs
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 x 1.06 in

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries) Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805082166 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Bestseller Winspear's sixth Maisie Dobbs novel (after 2008's An Incomplete Revenge) raises the stakes considerably for her psychologically astute sleuth. On Christmas eve 1931, a man Maisie passes on a London street detonates a bomb, killing himself and slightly wounding Maisie. This traumatic event turns out to be linked to threatening letters the British prime minister starts to receive, the first of which mentions Maisie by name. Maisie joins a high-powered investigative team devoted to averting the cataclysmic disaster promised by the unknown author of the messages. By providing the letter writer's perspective, Winspear removes some of the mystery. In addition, Maisie's speculative guesses about the profile of the criminal, while accurate, have less logical grounding than traditional puzzle fans might prefer. Still, Winspear does her usual superb job of portraying London between the world wars." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
In this fast-paced thriller, set in London in 1931, Maisie Dobbs must catch a madman before he commits murder on an unimaginable scale.
"Synopsis" by ,

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"An outstanding historical series . . . deeply empathetic.” (The New York Times Book Review)

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 Ministers 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 Yards 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.

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