A Lesson in Secrets - Month of Maisie Blog Tour

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8) by Jacqueline Winspear
review copy provided by Harper Perennial via TLC Book Tours
Description from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’ career goes in an exciting new direction when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities “not in the interests of His Majesty’s Government.”

When the college’s controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote’s death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.

To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain’s conduct during the war, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—the Nazi Party—in Britain.

A pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs, A Lesson In Secrets marks the beginning of her intelligence work for the Crown. As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, Maisie will confront new challenges and new enemies—and will engage new readers and loyal fans of this bestselling mystery series.

My Take:

A Lesson in Secrets is another fine addition to the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. We find our heroine, Maisie Dobbs little a bit older, a bit wiser and ready for some new challenges.  Her main new challenge is working undercover for the British Secret Service at a small private college whose founder is a controversial pacifist. Things take an interesting turn when the founder of the college, Greville Liddicote turns up murdered soon after Maisie starts working at the college as a lecturer. While Maisie is supposed to leave the murder investigation to Scotland Yard and focus on her own assignment, she is pretty certain the cases overlap and thus has to tread carefully between the two different  departments. 

Naturally, Maisie is able to spot several different paths for the investigation and manages to follow up on each of them while maintaining her teaching schedule and running her own investigation business in London with the help of her assistant and friend, Billy Beale. 

There are actually several different issues that Maisie must deal with in this novel. She is quite capable and her perceptive nature and special training help her stay several steps ahead of the police investigators. I always love the detailed descriptions of all the work Maisie and Billy put in while working on their cases. Their methods seem quite advanced and intuitive. 

Although some of the things Maisie finds out trouble her, the Secret Service seem less inclined to be concerned. There is an attitude of dismissal regarding the activities of the Nazi party that is puzzling but interesting considering their very different attitude about pacifists and conscientious objectors.

There are so many secrets in this book, hence, I would assume, the title. It isn't just the individual people who have their secrets, the government and military have theirs too. There is much to consider in A Lesson in Secrets, as there are in the other Maisie Dobbs books. I often find myself thinking about certain ideas or issues that came up in the book long after finishing the book. That is one of the things I love about Maisie Dobbs books -- they are never simple even though they are easy to read, there are always many issues to contemplate after closing the book.

A Lesson in Secrets deals with the ideas of peace and pacifism and what the motivations for both are. It also looks as the way others, including governments, look at these ideas and touches on some of the implications of war, peace, profits to made on wars and the conflicting motives of the players involved. Of course, it also deals with secrets - personal, government, commercial -- the effects of secrets, both benign and extremely bad. 

I was struck again while reading A Lesson in Secrets by how much effort Maisie had to put  into finding out information and the seemingly long wait for the information to arrive. I think this acceptance that things take time and not expecting instant information contributes to the much more relaxed pacing of the book and yet doesn't detract from the interest or urgency of the story. I really enjoy letting the mystery unfold at a leisurely pace instead of the rushing, headlong, mad dash that characterizes so many modern mysteries. Reading Maisie Dobbs books are always enjoyable and help me to slow down and consider things a bit more carefully - at least for awhile.

About Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education, and in marketing communications in the UK.
She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, and Among the Mad, as well as five other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. She now lives in California and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.
Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

Jacqueline’s Tour Stops:

Monday, March 4th: The House of the Seven Tails – Maisie Dobbs
Monday, March 4th: BookNAround – Birds of a Feather
Wednesday, March 6th: Peppermint PhD – Pardonable Lies
Thursday, March 7th: Melody & Words – Birds of a Feather
Thursday, March 7th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader – Messenger of Truth
Thursday, March 7th: Anglers Rest – Messenger of Truth
Thursday, March 7th: Lavish Bookshelf – An Incomplete Revenge
Friday, March 8th: Olduvai Reads – Maisie Dobbs
Friday, March 8th: 5 Minutes For Books – Pardonable Lies
Friday, March 8th: Anglers Rest – Among the Mad
Friday, March 8th: The Road to Here – Among the Mad
Friday, March 8th: A Bookish Way of Life – The Mapping of Love and Death
Friday, March 8th: The Book Garden – The Mapping of Love and Death
Monday, March 11th: The House of the Seven Tails – A Lesson in Secrets
Tuesday, March 12th: Starting Fresh – A Lesson in Secrets
Wednesday, March 13th: A Book Geek – A Lesson in Secrets
Thursday, March 14th: Lit and Life – A Lesson in Secrets
Friday, March 15th: Nonsuch Book – A Lesson in Secrets
Monday, March 18th: Short and Sweet Reviews – Elegy for Eddie
Tuesday, March 19th: Veronica M.D. – Elegy for Eddie
Tuesday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog – Elegy for Eddie
Wednesday, March 20th: guiltless reading – Elegy for Eddie
Thursday, March 21st: Booktalk & More – Elegy for Eddie
Friday, March 22nd: Library Queue – Elegy for Eddie
Monday, March 25th: A Bookworm’s World – Leaving Everything Most Loved
Monday, March 25th: cakes, tea and dreams – Leaving Everything Most Loved
Tuesday, March 26th: Oh! Paper Pages – Leaving Everything Most Loved
Wednesday, March 27th: The Written World – Leaving Everything Most Loved
Thursday, March 28th: Quirky Bookworm – Leaving Everything Most Loved
Friday, March 29th: nomadreader – Leaving Everything Most Loved


  1. I do enjoy reading books like this that remind me how much faster paced our world is today and how things in the past simply took much more time (to get info, to travel, etc.).

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for being on the tour.


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