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4.4 out of 5 stars70
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 8 May 2014
Well done, Jacqueline Winspear. All the things that I thought were missing from the previous novel, "A Lesson in Secrets," are fully acknowledged here -- the plot brings up issues that relate to differences in class (and that, of course, reflects on Maisie's relationship with James Compton), differences in education (which has enabled Maisie to move out of the class she was born into), historical circumstances (the rise of Hitler) and British politics c. 1933. The secondary plot -- the one that focuses on Maisie's life -- raises questions about one's right (or not) to make decisions about the well-being of others less fortunately situated, and that plot has a tight thematic relation to the main plot -- the matter of Maisie's investigation -- which raises a parallel question about who has the right to decide, in an ostensible democracy, what's best for "the people," or the country as a whole, and the further question of what means might be justified in pursuing that ostensibly "good" end. Thus Maisie finds herself dealing with people whose analysis of the dangers of the times agrees with her own -- but whose actions in furtherance of a response to the dangers are much more questionable.

I'm writing with a thematic focus to avoid "spoilers" as best I can, but I think I can say that a Rupert Murdoch-like figure looms large in the novel (though not quite in the way one might expect), and Winston Churchill makes a cameo appearance. Also, James Compton and the husband of Maisie's friend Priscilla are tied to the main plot much more closely than is usual. Best of all, the plot is wrapped up to the extent that we know by the end who is responsible for what -- and yet that wrapping up doesn't resolve the moral difficulties that Maisie is made aware of as she moves towards solving the case. Sandra and Billy. Maisie's staff members, figure prominently. The way the plotting combines personal and professional challenges for Maisie is really very well worked out. This is a good one!
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on 30 March 2013
The Maisie Dodds series is one of the few series of books that I get as soon as they are published. This is the 7th I have read and I have to say my least favourite. The series of books is as much a social commentry of the times as it is a who-done-it. I enjoy the historical detail as much as the case that Maisie is dealing with. But I thought that there was too much filler in this book - too much of Maisie wondering what she was doing with her life and not enough emphasis on events. Another reviewer stated that the the ending was very open and at the end I was left feeling rather disappointed. If you are new to Maisie Dodds I would not recommend this as the book to start with.
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"Elegy for Eddie," is the latest release in Jacqueline Winspear's popular, bestselling historical mystery series featuring Maisie Dobbs. The author burst onto the scene in 2003, hitting bestseller and award lists with Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mystery 1), first in the series. It was set, as all the ensuing entries in the series have been, in post-World War I Britain. Maisie, plucky, intelligent and likeable, began work as a servant at age 13, but by now, thanks to a mentor she found, has educated herself, and inherited a considerable fortune. She has spent the war years as a nurse in France. She now runs her own private investigation firm, and has developed a relationship with Viscount James Compton, scion of the family for whom she first began work as a maid. Winspear's books are well-plotted, rather leisurely in exposition, but darker than many cozies as Maisie is continually under the influence of her war experiences, sometimes described in flashbacks.

We meet up again with Maisie , "one of the great fictional heroines, equal parts haunted and haunting" according to Parade magazine, in early April 1933. The costermongers of Covent Garden--sellers of fruit and vegetables on the streets of London--are fond of their coworker Eddie Pettit. They know him as a gentle soul who was actually born in a stable, and has a near-magic gift for working with horses. Suddenly Eddie is killed in a violent accident; the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about his death. They wonder who would want to kill Eddie--and why? And they take their doubts to Maisie.

Maisie's father, Frankie, had been a costermonger, so she has known the men since childhood. She remembers Eddie fondly and is determined to help find the truth of his death. But further deaths soon make it clear that powerful political/ financial forces are just as determined to prevent her from learning it. Maisie begins her search for answers to Eddie's death on the working-class streets of the London borough of Lambeth, where Eddie had lived and where she too grew up. The inquiry leads her to a haughty press baron, accustomed to having things his way; a has-been politician, Winston Churchill, and, eventually, much closer to home than she would like to be.

The story of London's beginning to be influenced by the march to another war years before it erupts is poignant and powerful, as the first innocent victims are already being sacrificed, and some foresighted citizens can see eventual war on the horizon. Of course, Winspear has the advantage of penning this tale nearly 80 years after she has set it: she knows what's just down the road for her characters. But she does manage to avoid excessive telegraphing of their futures. I found her writing in this book to be excellent, crisp, witty. Her descriptive powers are considerable; she gives us a full-of-detail picture of post war London in its seasons and of its mighty river, the Thames. Her characters are sharply drawn. Her narrative and dialog are fine, too. I've not read the author's Maisie series in its entirety, but have recently read and reviewed Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs). I wasn't crazy about it, either but some of my most-respected fellow Amazon reviewers have strongly recommended her work. So I've kept reading her, and am glad I did, as I really really liked this one. MAPPING, as well as Among the Mad,Lesson in Secrets, A , and An Incomplete Revenge, and four other Maisie Dobbs crime novels, have been New York Times bestsellers. The writer has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavitys for the first of the series, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and named a New York Times Notable Book. Winspear is originally from the United Kingdom, but has found her way to the balmier region of California. Readers not familiar with her work might want to go back to the beginning of this series; but this entry can stand on its own. It's really something.
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In the ninth installment of her popular Maisie Dobbs series Jacqueline Winspear brings us one of her most affecting and intriguing stories to date. We meet 16-year-old Maudie Pettit, very pregnant and soon to give birth. "Maudie had been born in the workhouse, and she was determined that not only would she not be going back there, but her baby wouldn't be born in the workhouse either." She worked nights at Starlings Brewery located in Lambeth, London, cleaning the horse's stalls. It is there in 1887 that her son, Eddie, is born.

Some years later the indefatigable Maisie Dobbs comes to her office to find a delegation from her past. Waiting for her, scrubbed and in their best, is a group of costermongers, men who sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts. She remembers them from her childhood as they worked the streets of London as did her father. She also remembers Eddie Pettit, a slow but kind man who had a way with horses, almost a preternatural way of calming them. Now, Eddie is dead, killed according to his friends and they want Maisie's help.

Of course, she cannot refuse, so begins an investigation that leads her into an unsavory place of secret intelligence and propaganda, plus a confrontation with an apparently cruel, powerful press baron.

With her unrivaled mix of mystery and history Jacqueline Winspear takes us to a bygone London as vivid on the page as it was "between the wars."

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
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“Everything good has a dark side, even generosity. It can become overbearing, intimidating, even humiliating – and no one likes to think someone else is pulling the strings….”

Elegy For Eddie is the ninth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private investigator, is asked to investigate the supposedly accidental death of a simple man with an uncanny gift for dealing with horses. Eddie Pettit was well-known and loved amongst the costermongers of Covent Garden, former associates of Maisie’s father, Frankie, and they are sceptical about the circumstances of Eddie’s death.

As Billy Beale and Maisie try to discover a motive for his death, they learn that Eddie had certain special talents that were not apparent. Maisie discovers two other deaths that were ruled suicides but which strike her as suspicious, and Billy’s investigations land him in the hospital. His wife Doreen’s slowly-recovering mental health suffers a setback, and Maisie is taken to task for her need for control. Her relationship with James Compton takes a new direction, Maisie accepts counsel from an unexpected quarter and discovers a few surprising things about her father, her best friend’s husband and her lover.

This instalment is set in April 1933, against a background of increasing Fascism in Germany that signals the possibility of another war. Winspear touches on the power of the press, the subtle use of propaganda, and the balance between freedom of information and the need for national security, as well as the position of women in society. Winspear develops her main characters more fully and her plot takes a few unexpected turns. Another excellent Winspear mystery.
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on 2 October 2012
Jacqueline Winspear continues to get better and better. The latest Maisie Dobbs novel moves us ever closer to the start of World War II. It is quite different to earlier stories as it is very personal and tells us things about Maisie's past that had not previously been revealed. Roll on the next book in the new year.
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on 10 January 2013
I have read all of Ms Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series and each time I am lost in admiration for her skill in recreating the spirit of the period she is describing. I can hear the London traffic, I can see the Kent countryside or the post war life in England or France.She recreates the atmosphere of the england of the 1920s and 30s so skilfully.
Maisie herself is a complex character who has moved out of her birth milieu yet still retains a connection to it. Her life journey is delineated at the same time as she investigates her cases but without intruding upon the mystery she is exploring.
The subsidiary characters have just as much care expended on their development.
In this, the latest episode, she is approached by a group of coster-mongers whom she knew in her childhood, they ask her to find out the circumstances behind the death of their friend Eddie. During the course of the investigation Maisie finds out disturbing details about medical experiments ( which have both historical and modern -day resonances) and also discovers more about herself. and her innermost character.The story is beautifully told, clues unfold seamlessly and the denouement is magnificently handled.
I would love to say that this is the best book in the series and the only reason I do not do so is because I have thought that about all of them.
I eagerly await the next in the series. Ms. Winspear is undoubtedly one of the most talented authors of her generation.
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on 19 November 2014
In the ninth book of the series, Jacqueline Winspear has again provided a satisfying mystery with engaging characters, but with perhaps a rather different outcome from usual. All the books in the series provide gripping plots. What is so good about all these novels is the way Winspear has explored how the First World War influenced peoples lives. She brings out the hardship of the times. All who read the books will have great admiration for Masie Dobbs. This is truly an excellent series.
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on 19 September 2014
I am an avid fan of Maisie Dobbs and am sad to think that the series is drawing to a close (as it seems to be). This book is much more about Maisie's relationships than normal and some reviewers have down rated the book because of it. I think it adds to what we know about Maisie rather than detracts from the tale. Not so much a mystery as others in the series but a satisfying read nonetheless.
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on 29 December 2013
This is a story of manipulation and propaganda set between the wars. Missile Dobbs investigates the death of a person from her childhood and as the story unfolds we learn how the Great War affected the souls of all those it had touched. We are left thinking about the morality of things done for the best of reasons and whether they can ever really be justified
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