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A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8) by Jacqueline Winspear: A Book Review

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2011
Pages:  477
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’ career goes in an exciting new direction 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 interests 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 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 war, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain. 

     A pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs, A Lesson In Secrets marks the beginning of her intelligence work for the Crown. As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, Maisie will confront new challenges and new enemies—and will engage new readers and loyal fans of this bestselling mystery series.

     My Review: Maisie has been hired by the British Secret Service to spy on Greville Liddicote at the College of St. Francis. She is disguised as a junior lecturer and teaches philosophy. Her job goes smoothly until Greville Liddicote turns up dead. As Maisie searches for the murderer, she learns that there is a conspiracy, for their are members in the college that support the Nazi Party. Maisie’s clues also lead to a secret that leads to the Great War.

     This setting took a different turn from the regular London setting. The setting is mostly set at a college in Cambridge. However, the college setting shows how academics are affected by the rise of the Nazi Party. I loved how Maisie was a professor at the small college. I loved how she used what she learned from Maurice to teach philosophy. I would have liked to learn more about her lectures, but it was mostly about the mystery surrounding Greville Liddicote.

      Maisie is very bright and observant. She notices the small details about her classmates. She is also a very compassionate friend and helps get Sandra back on her feet. She does have her doubts about her relationship with James. She can be pushy with her father. She wants him to leave his cottage and move in with her at the Dower House. Still, despite her flaws, she is a woman who wants to help out her friends. Her insistence on helping her friends make her friends a bit overwhelmed at times, but they know she means well. She is a strong woman who can overcome her obstacles.

    Overall, this book is full of secrets, deception, and the rise of WWII. I was happy that this novel featured all my favorite characters. I adored the beautiful setting of the campus college. This was a nice change of scenery in the Maisie Dobbs novels. I was saddened that this is so far the only book where Maisie is a professor at the college. I hope she teaches at other colleges in latest installments.  It is obvious A Lesson in Secrets is leading into WWII for it discusses the rise of Hitler. A Lesson in Secrets is a very fast-paced mystery that is filled with historical details. This novel will be sure not to disappoint fans of the Maisie Dobbs series, and hopefully Maisie will continue to thrill us with her adventures!

Rating: 5 out  of 5 stars

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