Winspear, Jacqueline. Among the Mad.
This is the book I won in Danielle's give-away and the sixth novel in Winspear's series about Maisie Dobbs.
There are several aspects of these novels that I particularly enjoy:
- the way Maisie's character develops from the time immediately after WWI up to 1931, the period of this novel
-Winspear's handling of all of the WWI details and its residual effects on England
-the psychological insight into various characters
-the ambiance of post-war England
-and the mysteries themselves.
All of these aspects are present in Winspear's latest installment. When Maisie and Billy witness the suicide of a war veteran as they walk down a London street, they find themselves drawn into the investigation. The larger investigation involves a threat to the population of London involving poisoned gas if the government doesn't respond to the needs of its war veterans.
The use of poisoned gas by the Germans was one of the most horrorific elements of WWI, and the thought of the use of such a weapon on London is terrifying. Maisie immediately suspects that the author of the note is himself one of the shell-shocked victims of the war; working with New Scotland yard, she joins the frantic attempt to locate him in time.
Of course, the emphasis on the poisoned gas calls to mind Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est (perhaps the best known poem of WWI) and its description of victims of a gas attack.
In addition to the major plot line and its logical digressions concerning shell shock and the treatment of war veterans, the novel follows some of the minor recurring characters and their difficulties.
Among the Mad is one of Winspear's best, a multi-layered look at an era. Winspear has also begun to introduce us to the pre-war period of WWII in her last couple of novels. Hitler is consolidating his power in Germany and many in England are beginning to take notice of the changing political climate.
An interview with Jacqueline Winspear: A Work in Progress.
Other reviews: So Many Books and Curled Up With A Good Book.
Fiction. Mystery/Psychology. 2009. 303 pages.