Later, a letter arrives at the prime minister's office threatening more violence - possibly through the use of toxic gas - unless the government passes laws to help the wounded veterans who are clearly not being taken care of as they should be. The letter mentions Maisie by name, and soon she is called in to work on the investigation with Scotland Yard. But trying to find one mentally disturbed, clearly brilliant man in the morass of wounded, mentally scarred veterans in England before he can strike seems a hopeless task. Maisie will need all her special training and insight - not to mention the contacts she made working as a nurse during the war - to discover the culprit in time. Sporadic glimpses of the killer's journal serve to heighten the tension as well as reveal a highly intelligent, deeply disturbed mind.
This is one of my favorite mystery series for adults, right up there with Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. They mysteries are intricate and intriguing, and the characters are multifaceted and, as events progress through the series, their impact on the characters is evident as they grow and change as a result. The novels all explore the effects of the war and its aftermath, and each mystery involves an aspect of those effects. In this one, the treatment of war veterans, particularly those with mental issues, is at the forefront, and it made for one of the creepier, darker books in the series. Although the novels are set in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the subject matter is powerfully relevant to current times. Having recently finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I felt the references to events in Germany that presaged World War II to be particularly disturbing, as it was clear that the country had yet to deal with the fallout from the first war, and a new one would be on them before knew it.
This is a series that has great appeal both those who love a good, character-driven mystery and those who enjoy historical novels. The books fall into that rare category of mystery that holds up to rereading, because the books are about so much more than the solving of a puzzle. In fact, I enjoyed the audio version of this and the last one so much, I may go back to the beginning and listen to the others some time soon. I look forward with impatience to the next book in the series.
Books in the Maisie Dobbs series:
1. Maisie Dobbs2. Birds of a Feather
3. Pardonable Lies4. Messenger of Truth
Among the Mad (#6 in the Maisie Dobbs series) by Jacqueline Winspear; narrated by Orlagh Cassidy (BBC Audiobooks America, 2009)
Also reviewed at:
A Garden Carried in the Pocket: "Among the Mad is one of Winspear's best, a multi-layered look at an era."
Lesa's Book Critiques: "...one of the most thoughtful, timely mysteries you will read this year, even though the main action is set in one short week in December, 1931."Library Queue: "This mystery actually creeped me out a little more than her others have, but I was riveted."
A Reader's Journal: "In my opinion, Among the Mad is the best one yet."
And here is a review at Mindy Withrow's blog of the first four books in the series, if you'd like to see how it all began.