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A Lesson in Secrets

A Maisie Dobbs Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2011
    336 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder

Another great read
A Lesson In Secrets is the eighth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. After being (somewhat ineptly) followed for some ten days, psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs finds herself recruited into the Secret Intelligence Service by Brian Huntley (as was hinted by her late mentor during his last days), to work a job in conjunction with Robbie MacFarlane of Scotland Yard Special Branch. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, she is to pose as a psychology lecturer at The College of St Francis whilst observing for activities that are not in the interest of the Crown. But when she has been there only a week, the Principal of the College, Greville Liddicote, a staunch pacifist, is murdered. And a little research reveals quite a few possible suspects.

While Maisie is away, Billy Beale manages the Investigations business, although he is to some degree distracted by the impending birth of his fourth child. Luckily Maisie is able to convince her reluctant employee to become her tenant in a new cottage in which she invests some of her newfound wealth. A former flatmate comes to Maisie in distress: recently widowed, and with some doubt about the accidental nature of her husband’s death, Sandra accepts a job but remains unsettled. Maisie’s relationship with James Compton encounters a few hurdles.

In this instalment, Winspear touches on conscientious objection, mutiny amongst the troops, Nazism, fraud, organised crime and protection rackets, the role of women in the resistance and a nerve disorder that sounds a lot like Multiple Sclerosis. Maisie is frustrated at the Secret Service’s focus on Communism at the expense of Fascism, and Robert Stratton makes a surprise move. A baby is born and Maisie visits Wandsworth Prison. As always, Winspear blends historical fact with fiction while her plot takes a few twists before the murderer is revealed. It will be interesting to see where the next book, Elegy for Eddie takes this resourceful heroine. Another great read.
Sharon Padilla (Jacksonville, FL)

A Lesson in Secrets
As a longtime fan of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, I really enjoyed this 8th book in the series. Maisie's career takes an unexpected turn when she receives an assignment from the British Secret Service to go undercover as a professor in a small university in Cambridge.
She encounters a group of Nazi party sympathizers , whose activities are suspicious and far reaching. Her experiences there and through her agency in London keep the reader on tenterhooks to the very end.
This is a great read for anyone who enjoys detective stories, especially those with historical overtones.
Rita K. (Bannockburn, IL)

How did I miss knowing about Maisie Dobbs
I haven't read any of Jacqueline Winspear books before, and after reading A Lesson in Secrets, I see what I have missed. I thoroughly enjoyed Maisie Dobbs and plan my summer reading catching up on her earlier adventures.
Elly M. (Roswell, NM)

A Lesson in Secrets
Maisie Dobbs is a treat - an endearing protagonist - and her adventures in "Secrets" were ambitious and fun to read.

Having read only the first in the series prior to this most recent, I was afraid "Secrets" might not stand alone. Unfounded fear, for it does indeed. It is a fast moving story wherein Maisie's new assignment with the British Secret Service adds yet another dimension to her active life, leaving the door open, I suspect, for more challenges and adventures in this charming series.

It is a joy to read Jacqueline Winspear's writing. She carries you through her novels in a manner that is guaranteed to capture your interest.

Finally, I would like to add, it is especially refreshing to read a novel written in impeccable English - totally void of sentences ending in a preposition!
Fran Tessmer- formerly at San Diego Public Library

Reflection at Cambridge
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the latest in the Maisie Dobbs series. More than some of the preceding novels, this one is quiet and reflective in tone, perhaps to accompany the more introspective tone of a university. Maisie, of course, is the central character and it is her intelligence, her temperament, and her insights which the author focuses us on. All of the other characters, while adding interest, and in most cases, being necessary to the plot's development, are secondary to Maisie. So it is that we see Maisie fully confident in her new professional duties, while still not ready to make important personal commitments.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes character driven, historical mysteries set in England, particularly those set between World War I and World War II. In addition, this book, or the series as a whole, could easily be used for discussion by a book club.
Grace S. (Harrison Township, MI)

Another Engaging Maisie Dobbs Novel!
In A Lesson in Secrets, Maisie Dobbs continues to evolve both professionally and personally. Within the backdrop of World Wars I and II, Maisie skillfully unravels a tangle of multi-layered, intriguing, and puzzling events and in the process, thoroughly engages and satisfies the reader.
Vy A. (Phoenix, AZ)

A Lesson in Secrets
A Lesson is Secrets, Jacqueline Winspear’s eighth novel featuring psychologist-investigator Maise Dobbs will not disappoint her fans who have come to expect a story that is rich in historical details (England, 1932), as well as a study of human nature as seen through Maise’s astute observations of peoples’ actions and behaviors. What appeals to me in the Maise Dobbs’ series is not only how she solves crimes but how she struggles with aspects of everyday life and the people she loves—her employees, her aging father, her romantic interest, James. My favorite quote from this book is “Secrets and lies always go together” and as the title implies, there are many secrets to explore. I also like that the Maise series moves forward in time and she too changes with the times and events in her life. If you are new to the series, you can still appreciate this story on its own. I can almost guarantee, however, you’ll want to read books one through seven while waiting for number nine.
David L. (Celebration, FL)

Another winner for Winspear's "Maisie Dobbs"
"Lesson in Secrets" is the 8th novel in the "Maisie Dobbs" mystery series. Jacqueline Winspear has a gift for capturing the look and feel of England between the two World Wars. Her characters -- some of whom, like Maisie, appear in all of the novels -- are fully fleshed out. Like the other novels in the series, "A Lesson in Secrets" is well-organized, intelligent, thought-provoking. A very good read.

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