Messenger of Truth
Disclaimer: I received this book gratis from Jacqueline Winspear’s publicist.
Reason for Reading: This is, I think, the first Mystery novel I have read. I had not heard of Jacqueline Winspear but upon looking into her books discovered that they have been well thought of, in fact one of her novels, Birds of a Feather, has won the Agatha Award. I figured it was as good a time as any to try out a Mystery.
Quote: “The taxi-cab slowed down alongside the gates of Camden Abbey, a red brick former mansion that seemed even more like a refuge as a bitter sleet swept across the gray, forbidding landscape.”
Messenger of Truth is the fourth book in Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. The series takes place in England during the 1920s and 30s. The star of the books, Maisie Dobbs, is a private investigator as well as psychologist. In this particular novel, she agrees to investigate the death of an artist. It has been ruled accidental by the police, but the artist’s sister is not convinced.
A main theme in this novel, and apparently in the earlier novels, is the lasting effect of World War I on England and her people. Times are rough as people are still recovering from the war and the world has now largely sunk into the Great Depression. Many of the commoners in England are out of work. But the upper classes, particularly in America still have money. They use their wealth to buy up works of art from those in Europe who have fallen on hard times. One particular artist, the victim in this book, is driven by his experiences in the war. He holds nothing back, unafraid to offend, wanting to show the terror and sadness of the war. His enemies could be several.
The book also focuses on Maisie and her motivation to take up her line of work. Her main method of work is to find out who the victim truly was, who his relations are, their thoughts, feelings and personalities. Her training as a psychologist helps her to look beyond the facts and clues. This is certainly a more thoughtful and literary Mystery than you find on the Bestseller rack at the grocery store. And for this I was grateful.
I found that the novel takes an even keel approach to the story. By this I mean that there was no intense climax to the unveiling of the murderer. The story moves at a decent pace, and, as I mentioned, it involves not only the murder but deeper looks into the lives of the characters. It was a decent read and left me curious as to how the other books build and define Maisie Dobbs. Recommended to those who appreciate a more literary approach to the Mystery genre.