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A Lesson in Secrets

A Maisie Dobbs Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

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

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for A Lesson in Secrets
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Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder (12/15/14)

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) (04/02/11)

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.
Philip K. (San Anselmo, Ca) (03/29/11)

The creative miss Dobbs
This is the first Masie Dobbs book I've read. I wanted to read it because of my interest in the effects of WW 1 on English society as well as my passion for detective literature about that period. Unfortunately while Maise has a compelling history and proper wisdom for an English amateur detective the writing is less than stellar with numerous Gramatical errors that are disconcerting. Moreover the mystery is banal and slimly developed. One positive note is that Ms Dobbs is a likable creative character whose back story is unusual and time spent with her
Justifies further reading of the series.
Rita K. (Bannockburn, IL) (03/28/11)

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.
Pepper E. (Lawrenceville, NJ) (03/26/11)

Came to series late
I acquired this book as an Early Reviewer. I had seen books from this series and was intrigued. To arrive at #8 in a series, you have to have created a worthy and interesting character.
Part historical fiction and part mystery, I never felt I learned much about the years leading up to WW2 nor did I feel that page turning pull, but I thought Maisie was an interesting character.
Because I came to the series late, I worried I would not know enough about the characters to enjoy the story, but the author brought the novice up to speed where it mattered. I had an pre-conceived image of Maisie as a Jessica Fletcher type, maybe because she was so proper and devoutly good. I was glad to find out she broke from that mold a bit (she spends the night with her boyfriend) but Maisie is exceeding generous and thoughtful, a la Alexander McCall Smith's female detective.
In that vein, I found the story slow and steady. In the end, I felt I could go back to earlier books in the series.
Reading other reviews, I see that Winspear has some true devotees, so that makes me want to put her in my "Want To Read" column. The pace of the writing would have me choose this series when I was looking for a comfortable and familiar distraction.
Elly M. (Roswell, NM) (03/25/11)

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!
Lois P. (Logan Library, Logan, UT) (03/21/11)

A Lesson in Secrets
Maisie Dobbs is back! I've been an armchair traveler as Winspear has carefully moved this engaging series forward bringing Maisie, her family, and friends to life. Here Maisie, recruited as an undercover philosophy teacher at the university of Cambridge in pre-WWII England, negotiates landmines of greed, selfishness, political intrigue, murder-- and romance--with her usual grace. Will there be a fairy-tale ending for Maisie? I'll be patiently waiting to find out!
Fran Tessmer- formerly at San Diego Public Library (03/17/11)

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.

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