Synopses & Reviews
Maisie Dobbs' first assignment for the British Secret Service takes her undercover to Cambridge as a professor—and leads to the investigation of a web of activities being conducted by the emerging Nazi Party.
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs' career takes an exciting new turn when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities "not in the inter-ests of His Majesty's government."
When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Richard Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.
To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.
As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, this pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs foreshadows new challenges and powerful enemies facing the psychologist and investigator—and will engage new readers and loyal fans of this "outstanding" series (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review).
"In Winspear's solid eighth Maisie Dobbs novel (after The Mapping of Love and Death), Maisie finds herself financially independent, thanks to a bequest from her late mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche, and open to new challenges exactly at the moment the British Secret Service seeks to recruit her in 1932. Greville Liddicote, the author of a pacifist children's book that the government went to great pains to suppress during WWI, has founded a college in Cambridge devoted to maintaining peace in Europe. To keep tabs on Liddicote, Maisie infiltrates his school under the guise of a philosophy teacher. When a staff member is murdered, she reverts to her old profession and works to aid the police inquiry from the inside. Maisie's new affluence allows her to intervene benevolently in the lives of those she cares for and her romantic life intensifies, but these positive personal developments end up making her less interesting as a protagonist than formerly. 9-city author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
“The combination of period detail and intricate storytelling makes A Lesson in Secrets seem distant enough to be romantic but sufficiently modern to engage our sympathies.” Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
“Maisie is one of the great fictional heroines, equal parts haunted and haunting.” Parade
“With an affecting storyline and graceful prose, Winspear has again created a powerful and complex novel, one that will linger in memory as a testament to her talent and her humanity.” Richmond Times-Dispatch
Laurence Bartram is a British architectural scholar, a veteran of World War I, and a man who has lost his wife, infant son, and much of his hold on life. Speller, who introduced Bartram in her first novel, thewidely acclaimed The Return of Captain John Emmett (2011), picks up the theme of the great losses that devastated England in the wake of the Great War. The novel is set in a Wiltshire village, the aptly namedEaston Deadall, which the war has totally cleared of young, able-bodied men, leaving only widows,children, and old men hanging on. Invited to the village to give his advice on a projected maze tocommemorate the war dead, Bartram is drawn into the tragedy that hangs over the Easton family aspalpably as the atmosphere in Poes House of Usher. Lady Eastons five-year-old daughter, Kitty,disappeared in 1911, and no body or evidence has yet been found. Shortly after Bartrams arrival, akitchen maid goes missing. And then a body is found in the Saxon church next to the manor. Whether Bartram is examining the intricate bestiary of a Saxon arch, the extravagance of the Victorian house itself,or the geometry of the planned maze, he brings a sense of how his interest in architecture, somethingoutside the doom of the Great War, may yet save him. An intriguing leas character and fascinating subject matter, skilfully realized.--
Booklist, STARRED review
Laurence Bartram, a veteran of the Great War, is called by an old army comrade, William Bolitho, to Easton Deadall, a small manor house in the west of England, to help out with architectural work. Bolitho will be installing a memorial window in the manors church in honor of the men the Easton family and its village sacrificed in World War I. Lydia, the widowed lady of the manor, is still haunted by the disappearance of her five-year-old daughter, Kitty, 13 years earlier. As Laurence unravels the mysteries of the ancient church, he also learns more about the greater mysteries that surround the village and the Easton familys dark secrets. VERDICT Spellers follow-up to her acclaimed debut, The Return of Captain John Emmett, is a well-crafted mystery with intriguing historical details and measured pacing that creates suspense. Fans of Jacqueline Winspears Maisie Dobbs series and readers who enjoy well-drawn characters in historicals will add this to their wish list.--Library Journal "Ms. Speller's considerable gifts as a social historian are on fine display...The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton is as much a literary novel as it is a thriller...Ms. Speller combines a Ruth Rendell-like psychological realism, an Agatha Christie-like plot and a Dickensian feel for life's roulette to create a complex and multi-faceted story that is as thought-provoking as it is pulse-pounding."--Wall Street Journal
Private investigator Maisie Dobbs receives her first assignment from the British Secret Service in A Lesson in Secrets, the eighth book in Jacqueline Winspears award-winning mystery series. Sent to pose as a junior lecturer at a private college in Cambridge, she will monitor any activities “not in the interests of His Majestys government.” When the colleges pacifist founder is murdered, Maisie finds herself in the midst of sinister web of murder, scandal, and conspiracy, activities that point towards members of the ascendant Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—on Britains shores. An instant classic, and sure to captivate long-time Maisie Dobbs fans as well as readers of Agatha Christie, Elizabeth George, and Alexander McCall Smith, A Lesson in Secrets is “a powerful and complex novel, one that will linger in memory as a testament to her talent and her humanity” (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
When the body of an unknown woman is discovered on the grounds of the Easton manor house, World War I veteran Lawrence Bartram is drawn into a dangerous labyrinth where the family's secrets are lurking—and among them might be the fate of Kitty Easton, the girl who vanished from their home fifteen years earlier. A gripping new installment in Elizabeth Spellers literary mystery series set in England between the wars.
When Great War veteran Laurence Bartram arrives in Easton Deadall, he is struck by the beauty of the place: a crumbling manor, a venerable church, and a memorial to the villages soldiers, almost all of whom died in one bloody battle.
Now peace prevails, and the rest of England is newly alight with hope, but Easton Deadall remains haunted by tragedy—as does the Easton family. In 1911, five-year-old Kitty disappeared from her bed and has not been seen in thirteen years; only her fragile mother still believes she is alive. While Laurence is a guest of the manor, a young maid vanishes in a sinister echo of Kittys disappearance. And when a body is discovered in the manors ancient church, Laurence is drawn into the grounds forgotten places, where deadly secrets lie in wait.
A gorgeous restoration of the manor-house mystery, The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton is sure to entrance literary, historical, and crime fiction readers.
About the Author
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.