A Dangerous PlaceLarge Print - 2015
Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability, and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England, her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger. But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn't ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, "You will be alone in a most dangerous place," she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie's arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar's Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on "the Rock" - arguably Britain's most important strategic territory - and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way.
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Maisie is trying to recover from the deaths of her husband and new born baby. She is coming back from India to England but can't face her family or England so she stops in Gibraltar. She finds the dead body of photographer Sebastian Babayoff. She doesn't believe the police that a robber did it. She finds his camera at the scene and realizes that he took a picture he shouldn't have. Amid the war in Spain, Maisie looks into the death with the help of people on both sides of the war. She meets two nurses who take her to a small village clinic which is run by a nun who is a teacher. This turns into her path of recovery with knowing she will return to England for Christmas.
When last we saw Maisie she had made the decision to leave England and everything she held most dear, and to travel to India. She left behind James, her beau who had proposed, with a promise she would let him know yes or no in a year’s time.
When we pick up Maisie’s story again, several years have passed, and we learn that while Maisie accepted James’ proposal, they did not live happily ever after. Trying to slay the demons of her past, Maisie embarks on more travel, finding her way to Gibraltar. She is not there a week when she literally stumbles over a body in the dark, and she once more takes up the mantle of detective psychologist, reasoning a little occupational therapy is what her mind and heart needs.
However Gibraltar in the years before WWII is a particularly hazardous place to be – many countries at cross-purposes have agents placed there, as Gibraltar - a tiny spit of land in southern Spain across the strait from Tangier – in 1937 is controlled by the British, and is the key to controlling the entrance to the Mediterranean. Fascists, Nazis, Communists, Allies – they all have a stake in Gibraltar, and Maisie’s investigation proves to have deeper, more complex roots than that of an apparent random murder in the city’s streets.
With spies from numerous nations looking over her shoulder and with opposing viewpoints muddling her convictions, Maisie will not be satisfied until she has answers for the victim’s families, but at what cost to her soul? Steeped in history of a relatively unexamined part of World War II, Jacqueline Winspear’s thoughtful characters and plotting make for a very reflective type of mystery, one that makes her audience seek out more knowledge about her subjects, just as her main character does.
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