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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "For he was indubitably a man who has been to war as he vanishes into the noxious blend of smoke and fog.", 19 Feb 2009
A much darker and leaner tale than her previous Maisie Dobbs outings, in Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear focuses on the collateral damage of the Great War, the terror and chaos of the battlefield and how it ultimately devastated a generation of young men. Maisie unexpectedly journeys into hostile territory and a dark landscape that involves a loss of Britain's innocence. Much of the drama plays out on the crowded streets of London as Maisie and her assistant Billy Beal find themselves caught up in a 1930's style suicide bombing when a man begging on the street corner suddenly activates a hand grenade inside his tattered and stained khaki coat.

Barely escaping with her life, Maisie had innocently walked up to him, his leg stretched out, as if he were lame. And as she had reached into her bag to offer money to someone who had so little, the grenade had suddenly exploded. There was a point at which Maisie new that the man would take his life. The man had been a soldier, the right leg amputated. As Detective Inspector Richard Stratton, who saw it all happen offers Maisie as measure of comfort, she remains haunted by the sense that someone had seen her reach out to the doomed man, had seen their eyes meet just before he pulled the pin that would ignite the grenade.

It is this attack that coincides with a much larger threat. In a wet London with an "unyielding quality of gray light that makes the word Merry Christmas seem hardly worth saying," a note, soiled by saliva, is received by the Home Security, telling of a terrible disaster involving a lethal nerve agent. The note also mentions Maisie's name and demands that the government act immediately to alleviate the suffering of all unemployed, starting with measures to assist those who have served their country in wartime. Certainly Maisie's talents render her a valuable member of the group centered in Scotland Yard. Together with Special Branch's Colm Darby and DCI Robert MacPharlane, Maisie prepares her template, piecing together a portrait of a man who is haunted by the ghosts of the Great War and has somehow been abandoned and has abandoned life.

From the outset it is obvious that two cases, linked by the person writing the letter, has used Maisie's name as currency to ad weight to his endeavor. Then a sickening report comes in of a gas attack on a number of dogs in Battersea. Coupled with the surprise revelation that MacFarlane has a group in custody and believes them to be behind the threats, union activists. Still the question remains: How could a man bring himself to kill innocent life, both animal and human? Winspear unfolds Maisie's latest case with a chilling urgency, from the paranoia of a killer who is determined to gas half of London to the furtive events at Mulberry Point and the strange experiments of the staff and their overexposure to nerve agents, the fate of many of the young soldiers unknown, and a cover up by the men of the Military Intelligence, Section five. Soon Maisie's investigations reveal the ugly details of the enigmatic Dr Anthony Lawrence, an expert in treatment of psychological trauma whose actions are surely dictated by his ambition and a professional curiosity.

Maisie is hardly a naïve protagonist but in this installment she is forced to confront her own reticence and her lack of emotional mastery when faced with the possibility of a more intimate connection. Meanwhile, Maisie tries to help Billy's wife Doreen and her growing melancholia, and also that of her best friend best friend Priscilla who is battles drink while trying desperately to remake her life. Even after thirteen years the war still ravages these characters. Shocking and painful, Winspear tries to inject hope into the narrative even as war neurosis and neurasthenia battle fatigue seem to have consumed a young soldier's heart, ultimately enveloping him in hysteria along with thousands of other lost boys. While the novel has the traditional attributes of a fast-paced and entertaining historical mystery - with the delightful character of Maisie always at its core - there's a deeper understanding at work here as the author digs deep into the mind of a man who has seen battle at close quarters and is so afflicted mentally and emotionally, embroiled in a deep melancholia and darkness. Mike Leonard February 09.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Will they hear my voice--our voices? I am not one man, no, I am legion.", 22 Feb 2009
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The intrepid Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private investigator, is walking through London on Christmas Eve, 1931, when a man she believes to be a shell-shocked veteran of World War I suddenly blows himself up, injuring Maisie and several other bystanders. Maisie herself has served in the Great War as a nurse, and she, too, suffered injuries, both physical and emotional during the war, so she has always been particularly sympathetic to the plight of these unfortunate, mentally ill veterans. Ineligible for the kinds of pensions, benefits, and services that physically injured veterans receive, they are often homeless and too damaged to get and keep a job to support themselves. They have been abandoned: no one even knows the name of the suicide victim.

Another anonymous (and mentally ill) veteran observes the suicide, and shortly afterward issues a threat, telling the authorities that he will "demonstrate [his] power," if the government does not alleviate the suffering of war veterans within forty-eight hours. "If you doubt my sincerity," he says, "ask Maisie Dobbs." Interviewed by Scotland Yard, the Special Branch, and military intelligence, Maisie convinces the authorities that she has had no previous contact with the suicide, and they eventually hire her to help them identify and then find the person who has issued the threat. As the hours tick down, the brilliant but obviously insane man takes action, quickly demonstrating that he is an expert on gases and proving that he will use them. Old Year's Day, on Dec. 31, is the day he intends to demonstrate his full power on the crowds celebrating in London.

Maisie's investigation takes her into the dark world of insane asylums, those who run them, the treatments they provide, and their chances for success, at the same time that the author also depicts the political and social unrest in the aftermath of the war. The issue of mental illness takes on particularly poignant notes when Doreen Beale, the wife of Billy Beale, Maisie's conscientious assistant, is still so fixated on the death of one of their children, though a year has passed, that she refuses to believe her child has died, and she is unable to care for their two surviving children.

Jacqueline Winspear writes in an exceptionally clear and simple style, and though her theme is complex, she never lets details bog down her fast-paced narrative. Her depiction of the social mores and the political policies of the era between the two world wars give an authenticity to the atmosphere which pervades the novel. As Maisie gradually comes to terms with her own emotional limitations as a result of her war experiences, the novel hints at new directions to come in future novels. n Mary Whipple

Maisie Dobbs, 2003
Birds of a Feather, 2004
Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, 2005
Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel 2006
An Incomplete Revenge, 2008
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not plan on getting anything done after starting reading this book!, 24 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Among the Mad (Hardcover)
Excellent book! Winspear is back on track after two not so very good novels about Maisie Dobbs. The pace is fast in this one almost from page number one which is the way I want a mystery. I could hardly read fast enough and finished in two days since it was a page turner like nothing else.
Billy Beale and Maise Dobbs walks out of their office on Christmas Eve to deliver a bill to a client and a man commits suicide right in front of their eyes. After being questioned by the Scotland Yard about what they saw they go to celebrate Christmas. But Maisie is brought back to London already on Boxing Day to be part of a desperate investigation to find a man that wants to make the government change their policy on how to treat war veterans with disabilities. She is forced to work with Special Branch, Scotland Yard and MI5 who in between themselves have a difficult time getting along. Their chase after a mad man that kills first 6 dogs with chlorine gas, 50 birds with another combination of gases and finally a junior minister with a new gas, is like searching for a needle in a haystack. People Maisie has had a high regard for since the war turns out to not be so nice after all. And she gets to see what the country has in store for possible enemies in the future as well as seeing that the research to create terrible chemical war fare weapons has no limits to how far it is taken and on whom it is tested. Maisie saves London from disaster by the hair but the question still stands at the end of the book as to what to do with all veterans that are ticking time bombs.
The biggest question is one that still is very valid, can government be too caught up in saving money. Can the money saving hurt society more than help it?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On good form, 22 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Among the Mad (Hardcover)
Having read all the Maisie Dobbs books, I was pleased to see that with this latest episode, Ms. Winspear is back on form. The last one (An Incomplete Revenge) wasn't nearly as credible. Among The Mad is much more satisfying - I also learned a great deal about the poor soldiers' lot on their return from the War, and a great deal is still relevant today! I am looking foward to what happens next....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery with a heroine of integrity, set in the aftermath of WW1, 10 April 2010
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This review is from: Among the Mad (Paperback)
This book can be read either as a stand alone , or as one of the series featuring Maise Dobbs, private detective in the interwar period. Winspeare uses the excellent mystery story to make a little - known aspect of social history of the period very intriguing. Her characters are not cliched. She writes with clarity and is enjoyable to read. Maisie is a character who you really care about and respect. I have read all the books, and I just like this series more and more. There is no falling off in quality of writing, plot or characterisation. The writer has to be very good not to become formulaic like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series, 3 Oct 2013
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This rating was chosen because this book is as riveting as it's predecessors. Great characterization and plot. Can't wait for the next in the series. I will be ordering it very soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another unputdownable Maisie Dobbs, 24 Jan 2013
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I only recently discovered these books and I love them, the stories are beautifully written, and bring to life the horrors of the fallout from the first world war. I'm addicted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series, 8 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Among the Mad (Hardcover)
I really enjoy this author's attention to detail, both in her characterisation and plot. I f you have never read any of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries then I would recommend you start at the beginning as the characters develop over time. However, each mystery is complete within a single volume, so you can pick anyone up and read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 7 Sep 2014
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A good entertaining story of a different kind of detective fiction some of the spirit of agatha Christie a little of the detail of Louise penny. This particular story reminds us that mental health care in the 1930 was for most very rudimentary unless you were lucky or had the right connections. It also touches on the prejudice that women encountered at this time. A good read for a lazy afternoon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 May 2014
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It is just brilliant , If you haven't yet discovered Maisie Dobbs then you are missing a great deal, Perfect reading.
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Among the Mad
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Hardcover - 11 Jun 2009)
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