The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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April 4, 2015

A Dangerous Place

At the end of Leaving Everything Most Loved, the last Maisie Dobbs novel — which I remember especially liking — we knew {whether we really liked the idea, or not} that Maisie's life, as a psychologist and private investigator in 1930s London, was going to take a different and unknown direction. As this eleventh book in the series opens, we're told what has happened, bit by bit, in letters and flashbacks. {I always hesitate to give away any details about a book that you might not have read yet.} Enough to say that in the first chapters, we learn that time has passed; Maisie has traveled to India, and back home again, made a momentous decision, and found the need to return to India to restore herself. When her stepmother writes to her, urging her to come home because her elderly father misses her, Maisie leaves Darjeeling, only to find that she can't yet bear to go home; she leaves the ship in Gibraltar, the 'dangerous place' which has become a important garrison town and staging ground for fighters in the Spanish civil war.

Soon after she arrives {all of this is still in flashbacks} she stumbles upon the body of Sebastian Babayoff, a member of Gibraltar's tightly knit community of Sephardic Jews, who is making his living as a photographer. The police have written the murder off as the work of one of the many impoverished refugees streaming into Gibraltar, but Maisie, being Maisie, is drawn into investigating. She also notices that she is being watched, probably at the request of influential friends who are worried about her, or the British government agents she has encountered in the past, or both.

 I think I would agree with my friend that this book is not the place to start reading this series ... it's a place to find out what has happened to Maisie, if you are already immersed, and to serve as a bridge to what might happen next. It's filled with great historical details and setting, and interesting characters. But it's a little sad, and the glimpses of a happier, less serious Maisie are a little bit of a tease. {It's also possible that no book will do, if you also have Barchester Towers next to your reading chair. :) } Though I enjoyed reading it, it's a book to shake off and wait for the next one.


Lisa said...

When I saw the title of this pop up in my reader, I thought oh, she's been to a bookstore. Thats my definition of a dangerous place these days! This series has been very strongly recommended to me, but I haven't clicked with them.

Audrey said...

Lisa... mine, too! :)

Terra said...

I felt the same about this book, and I think people would do best to start with Maisie Dobbs, the first in the series.

Frances said...

I wasn't that many pages in before reading with my mouth hanging open. Poor Maisie is like Edith on Downton Abbey - consigned to suffering. But I did enjoy this one a great deal. And agree that it is definitely not the place to jump into the series!

JoAnn said...

I loved the first couple of installments! I really need to get back to this series... but you know how bad I am with series.

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