Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Maisie Dobbs Novels)

by Jacqueline Winspear

Hardcover, 2006

Call number





Henry Holt and Co. (2006), Edition: First Edition, 336 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML: Maisie Dobbs investigates the mysterious death of a controversial artist�??and World War I veteran�??in the fourth entry in the bestselling series London, 1931. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a controversial figure in her own right, isn't so sure. When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out an old classmate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city's art world. Following up on the bestselling Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear here delivers another vivid, thrilling and utterly unique episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs, in Messenger of Truth… (more)

Media reviews

MESSENGER OF TRUTH is something of a transitional book... the plot hinges on distant conflicts that have no immediacy, and the real issue seems to be whether Maisie will find a way “to move on, to dance with life again” — and, one hopes, to recover her original vocation.

User reviews

LibraryThing member arielfl
I have been reading along all of the books in this series fairly quickly until I got to this one. It is so sad I had to put it aside for awhile before finishing it. The problem for me in this book is that I am starting to not like Maisie very much. Would it have killed her to go check on Billy's
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daughter when she found out she was sick. She was after all a nurse and she knew that he didn't have the money to take her to the doctor. She could have at least given him the money. He has put himself out for many times. Also thought the way she treated Andrew was very shabby. He rushed to help her father when he was injured and he gets the brush off in this book. Her treatment of Maurice is also pretty deplorable. She is downright rude to him and he gave her his business. The mystery that lies at the heart of this novel is just as interesting as ever. It centers around an artist who may not have died accidentally and his missing artwork. The conclusion of this mystery is also very sad making this a down right depressing read. I will probably go on to read the other novels in this series after a break. I hope in the future Maisie will not be so wrapped up in herself.
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LibraryThing member hailelib
The fourth book in the Maisie Dobbs series finds Maisie and Billy exploring the art world when a client asks Maisie to investigate the circumstances of her artist brother's death in a supposed accident. Maisie is getting over a bad patch left over from her previous case and she is also very much
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alone here, being still estranged from Maurice and feeling that Andrew wants more than she is prepared to give. Billy is also distracted by his youngest child's illness and the crowding at home since his brother-in-law came to London with his family looking for work and are now living with the Beales. As is usual in this series, many of the problems being explored in Messenger of Truth have their roots in the Great War and many of those who find themselves out of work during the early thirties are veterans of that war.

Another good entry in the series which I will continue to follow both for Maisie and for the social history.
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LibraryThing member PatriciaUttaro
Diappointing. I really liked the earlier Maisie Dobbs stories, but this one left me cold. Maisie seems to have changed into this hard-hearted bitch that I really didn't like.
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
In this fourth Maisie Dobbs novel, psychologist and private investigator Maisie takes on a case at the request of a fellow Girton alumnus. Georgina Bassington-Hope, a noted war-time correspondent, is not satisfied with the ruling of accidental death in her twin Nick's fall from scaffolding at an
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art gallery. Nick was an artist, and was at the gallery alone to set up the pieces of his masterwork for an exhibition. Nick was very secretive about his work; no one else had seen the work, and no one knew what had happened to it after his death. Maisie's investigation exposes her to a different sort of people than she is used to -- artists, wealthy art patrons, and the wealthy Bassington-Hope family, whose economic situation affords them the freedom to adopt a bohemian lifestyle.

This is the best novel yet in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is very much alone in this novel, having left the comfort of the home of friend and former employer Lady Rowan Compton for a flat of her own. As a result of her last major case, she is estranged from her mentor, Maurice Blanchard. She is even deprived of the support of her assistant, Billy Beale, when a family crisis claims his attention.

Maisie suffered a breakdown in the previous novel in the series, and when this book opens she is still recovering from its effects. The Bassington-Hope case is her first major case since the breakdown, and those closest to her are concerned that she has taken on too much too soon. Although Maisie has always been self-aware, her breakdown has left her in an even more reflective state. As the title of the book suggests, truth is a theme in this novel. A large part of the impact of Nick Bassington-Hope's art is the truths it depicts, especially of truths of character or activities that its subjects wish to conceal. Maisie's contemplation of truth in connection with her investigation leads her to recognize some unwelcome truths in her own psyche. By the end of the novel she seems to be well on the way to attaining some peace in her personal life.

Because Maisie's character development is such an important feature of this series, I recommend reading the previous books in the series before reading this one.
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LibraryThing member AnglersRest
This is the fourth book in the Maisie Dobbs series. This series gets better and better and as the character develops and takes further shape, we as readers are drawn in all the more to a great series.

The central character is Maisie Dobbs, a former nurse during the Great War. Now, though Maisie is a
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private investigator working in London and owns her own business, car and home. A rarity for the 1930s, this book is set during 1931. During this page turner Maisie is asked by Georgina Bassington-Hope to investigate the death of her brother, a former soldier and artist who died tragically whilst he is setting up an art exhibition. Nick has experienced war. His way of coping with the events he witnessed, first as a front line soldier and then as a war artist, is to paint what he sees and this does not always bode well with those around him. As Maisie investigates she encounters secrets, war stories, smuggling and does eventually seek out the truth.

Meanwhile, her associate Billy encounters a tragedy of his own and Maisie breaks off her relationship with her latest suitor.

The author has captured the essence of a "modern woman", perhaps Maisie was a woman before her time as she sets out on the road to independence and maintaining that independence. Very well researched and despite being a fictional book based upon tragic life events and the aftermath.
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LibraryThing member cyderry
In this 4th installment of Maisie Dobbs, we see the main character addressing not only the mystery of the death of an artist ruled an accident but suspicious in the eyes of his twin but we see Maisie acting to aid Billy as he and his family face financial and emotional difficulties.

The conflicting
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comparison of the emotions of the Beale and the higher class Bassington-Hope family leads Maisie to examine her own feelings and the reader sees her growth not just as a woman but as an investigator.

Great addition to the series.
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LibraryThing member sriemann
Some things were a little sad for me in this book, but the growth that Maisie goes through is just as interesting as the mystery.
LibraryThing member jlapac
I am definitely on a binge. There were a number of characters in this book that I didn't much like. Still the story was gripping and I liked that Maisie's life and the development of her character are more important than the actual story, though the story does act as a vehicle for the character
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LibraryThing member tulikangaroo
I think the reason I haven't been enamored with Maisie is the new-age aspect of the stories, which thankfully seems to be diminishing with each book. In Messenger of Truth, in addition to solving the mystery of an artist's death, Maisie is recovering from her break with Maurice and struggling to
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find her own identity. I look forward to seeing what she figures out.
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LibraryThing member RubyScarlett
Maisie books are just so incredibly sad and this one is no exception. The investigation doesn't really move on until the very end but what an end! I was deeply interested in Maisie's foray into the world of artists and the author's use of the trauma of WWI was all the more poignant as it was
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coupled with some heavy WWII foreshadowing. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Winspear writes about the rise of nazism in the next few books. A very good novel indeed.
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LibraryThing member infjsarah
I like the Maisie Dobbs novels but I don't love them. And that's how I felt about this one. It's Okay but I did realise the solution, once the massive clue was given about 50% in.
LibraryThing member michigantrumpet
Number four in the Maisie Dobbs series. Artist Nick Bassington-Hope's late night death while installing his latest paintings for a much anticipated show has been ruled an accident. His sister, Georgina, isn't so certain and hires Maisie Dobbs to investigate. Like all of the books to this point,
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Winspear uses her platform to discuss the fate of soldiers and their families, coming to grips with the horrors of warfare and the lack of jobs, proper healthcare and services upon their return. As a former nurse at the Front, Maisie has her own demons with which to contend. Having moved into her own flat, she appears to have come a long way towards addressing her own issues. A fast and enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member EJStevens
Messenger Of Truth, the fourth book in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series, is filled with a pervasive melancholy that casts its shadow upon Massie and her clients. Jacqueline Winspear masterfully creates a tangled emotional web in which Maisie, with her fine-tuned skills of sensitivity, is ensnared.
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The war is over but the devastation and dire economic situation have resulted in crime, disease, death and desperation throughout Maisie’s beloved London. When Miss Dobbs is called upon by a fellow former student of Girton College to investigate the circumstances of the death of her brother, a controversial war artist, there are no shortage of suspects or motives if indeed his death were not an accident. Maisie must face her own war demons if she is to find the answers necessary to solve the case. A task made all the more difficult by the tragic events in the life of her assistance Billy and faced with the deteriorating romantic relationship with Andrew Dene.
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LibraryThing member bremmd
Well, Jacqueline has done it again. Made me Mad for Maisie all over again. Just when I think I can’t love the next one as much as the last, I read the next and love it more.

One of the issues I sometimes have with series is the character either never changes, grows, or evolves or he or she change
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in ways I do not enjoy. This cannot be said about Maisie. I love the way she grows and develops over each novel. She learns more about her self and we learn more about her. This entry in the series is no exception. And though I’m sad at where some of her growth has taken her I’m still love our girl.

I wasn’t surprised by the conclusion of her relationship with Dr. Dene but I did find it very sad. I thought maybe it would just fade away into friendship and maybe they will end up as friends later but it was a very sad moment in Maisie’s growth. I was also sad to see the riff between Maisie and Maurice hasn’t quite healed yet. I hope to see them come back together in the next books.

I was incredibly happy to see Billy back in the mix but was heartbroken by his storyline. I held out hope till the end that things would turn out well for Billy and his family but appreciate why it had to happen the way it did. It was much more honest.

I think as Maisie grows we need less of her emotional story and more mystery and this episodes mystery really had me guessing. Much more of a “who-done-it” than the past books this really was (as they might say in “the smoke”) a jolly good mystery. Another devastating family story but really very good.

I’m reading this as part of the I’m Mad for Maisie Read-Along hosted by Book Club Girl. Even if your not reading along head on over. There’s some great discussion that I’m sure will make you want to read this series. We’re about half way through but it’s not too late to join, just pick up a copy and start reading-you won’t be sorry.
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LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Nick Bassington-Hope, a controversial artist who gets inspiration from those around him is found dead when hanging his latest exhibition. The police believe it's an accident but his twin sister doesn't believe it and engages Masie Dobbs to investigate. She discovers that Nick's wartime experience
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has coloured his paintings and that some of his topics have made enemies of him. There's also some issues with smuggling that ends up being interwoven into the plot.

I did guess one of the plot twists fairly early on, but it's the finding out the motives of various characters and the ongoing seeing how Maisie develops held my interest
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LibraryThing member robertgriffen
An excellent story all the way through and very difficult to set down. It was the irst of this author's books I have read but it will not be the last. For those who enjoy a good story without too much gore this is an author to enjoy. Looking forward to reading several more.
LibraryThing member bjmitch
For months now I've been reading other bloggers' reviews of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries. Everyone likes them. So, I looked in the box of books given to me a while ago and found Messenger of Truth. This isn't the first in the series, but I don't usually have the opportunity to read
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a series in order so I plunged right in.

This story is set in London in 1931. The setting is of a changed city after World War I where some women have taken on new types of jobs but the poor are still almost Dickensian in their lives and the rich are oblivious to their plight. Maisie has, after a breakdown, set herself up as a psychologist and inquiry agent (Private Eye) with an assistant, Billy Beale, who is a poor man with a large family to support. He feels fortunate to have a job and is immensely loyal to Maisie. She has also rented her own apartment, though the heat is iffy in this very cold winter.

Her client in the story is Georgina Bassington-Hope (love the name) whose brother, Nick, an artist, has died in an apparent accident. He fell from large scaffolding erected to mount his latest work, what everyone suspects is a triptych. There is a younger brother, Harry, who plays the trumpet and is eternally in debt to dubious people, and an older sister, Noelle, who is the practical member of an artistic, creative family. She is also a war widow. The parents, both artists, are still alive, living in the old family home.

All of these characters are splendidly drawn. I must admit I've been catching myself talking like a Londoner in the 1930s. Along with the immediate mystery of whether Nick fell or was murdered, there is a pervasive, lurking suspicion involving the rise of Hitler's Nazi Party in Germany. What does it all mean for Europe and particularly England?

We are introduced to Nick's best friends, also artists, Billy's family, Maisie's father, and her beau. Lots of characters, but reading the book is something like sitting in a comfortable room beside a roaring fire on a cold winter day as a good storyteller weaves a magical tale. I thought it started out slowly but the characters were interesting enough to draw me in until I was deeply involved. I want to read the older books now, but not having done so didn't dampen my enthusiasm about Messenger of Truth at all. No wonder my book blogging friends rave about Winspear's books.
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LibraryThing member tututhefirst
This is probably my least favorite of the series so far. Maisie is hired by Georgina Bassington-Hope to investigate the unusual circumstances of her twin brother's death. Nick, who was an artist apparently fell from a scaffold while preparing to hang his defining work for an exhibit. No one knows
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what this work looks like, or where Nick has stored it, and Georgina is convinced that although the police have ruled his death accidental, he was actually helped to his death (murdered?). She hires Maisie to dig out the truth. And of course Maisie comes through. The story again was well written, well-plotted (the ending is stunning), but I just found parts of it a bit of a stretch. Still well worth the time though.
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LibraryThing member sumariotter
This series started a little bit slowly but keeps getting better and better. One of the blurbs for this book says that Winspear writes "Whydunnits" rather than "Whodunnits" and this is very true--she writes with great psychological insight into her characters. Her plots never seem contrived, and
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the historical background is really rich. She brings that period of time--1900s to 1930s in postwar England-- vividly to life...although I must say her heroine's compassionate and intuitive approach to detective work are ahead even of our times, sort of a conundrum. Maisie Dobbs is not just an investigator, she is a holistic healer. If only all who are involved in police/detective work had this approach!
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LibraryThing member MusicMom41
I'm having a dilemma and so is my public library system about how to classify the Maisie Dobbs series. Some of the local libraries, including mine, are putting these novels in the adult fiction area while others are classifying them as adult mystery (at least there is no doubt that they are
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"adult"). Although I filed the previous reviews I've done on this series under mysteries, I have decided that they really do belong in general fiction. The plots are more complex than most mysteries and involve more than one plot thread; although sometimes these threads overlap, they are not neatly tied into a tidy package at the end and usually there are things to ponder when the last page is read. The "mystery" in each novel is not a puzzle to be solved but a story to be unraveled so that one or more characters can go on with his/her life. There is character development within each story and not only with continuing series characters. One of the chief delights of the series is how Winspear takes us back to an historical time, the period between to two World Wars of the 20th century in England. We get to see the effects of this period across the entire social strata from the poor struggling to survive to the "last hurrah" of the peers of the realm who have no clue what is happening in the lower levels of society.

This entry in the series concerns the death of a famous artist on the eve of the opening of his largest exhibition. While working on how he will exhibit his largest masterpiece, which no one has ever seen nor knows what it consists of, he accidentally falls to his death from the scaffold on which he is working. His twin sister is not satisfied with the explanation of the police about his death and goes to Maisie Dobbs to have her investigate not only the death but what happened to the missing masterpiece. Because the artist was a "war artist" there are memories of the war revived, in addition to a portrait of a once wealthy landed family dealing with not only artistic temperament but also how to cope with straitened circumstances. Both Maisie and her aide, Billy, also have problems with which Maisie must deal. This is a very satisfying if somewhat sobering story. I highly recommend this series.

To me an interesting connection between this story and The Red Badge of Courage, which I also read this month, is that both novels have a scene where a cease fire is called so that the warring armies can go out on the battlefield to remove their wounded and bury their dead. In Winspear's novel there is poignant description of a meeting between soldiers from opposite sides who accidentally meet face to face amid the carnage and hug each other as they shed tears for their dead comrades. This is followed by a horrifying account of what happens to one of the soldiers when he returns behind his own army's line.
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LibraryThing member WeeziesBooks
The book “Messenger of Truth” in the Maisie Dobbs series was particularly interesting to me. It had a touch of family dynamics with loyalties and love and conflicting with passion and protection. Exploring the lives of artists, discovering smuggling activities, and further developing the strong
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characters in the series and Winspear does and excellent job developing and recounting these subplots.

In this installment, Maisie and her assistant Billy embark upon another business contract where they are hired to find out the truth of an artists’s death. Is it murder or accidental death of the new clients brother? Billy’s family had challenges and sadness in this book and the gentleness of Maisie’s character is illuminated several times. The flash backs of the war are always touching and help us all remember the sacrifices made by all men and women who have fought in battle This book is filled with those pictures and thoughts as they are in others of the series. Read the books of the series in order if possible. I have not acquired them in correct order and I still am enjoying them; however, it tells a complete story if you read them in proper progression. This is a 4 plus light mystery told in a historical fiction manner.
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LibraryThing member jamespurcell
An insightful look at the horrors of the Great War as they continue to reverberate years later. Maisie is asked investigate the accidental death of an iconoclastic realist painter of WW1 battle scenes. The bleak economic world of 30's England is contrasted poignantly against the lives of the rich
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and famous as she sorts it all out.
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LibraryThing member Kimaoverstreet
Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear, the fourth installment in the Maisie Dobbs series, is a wonderful continuation of the story of this PI, her assistant Billie, and London in the aftermath of WWI. Subplots connect beautifully, as Maisie and Billie work to determine if an artist's death was
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an accident or murder. Messenger of Truth is resplendant in historical detail and beautiful prose, and is recommended highly to anyone that is a Maisie Dobbs fan!
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LibraryThing member horacewimsey
Not quite as good as the earlier ones. I don't like the absence of Maurice Blanche. Oh, I understand the need for Maisie to make it on her own; but I rather liked Maurice and didn't care for his absence from this story.
LibraryThing member riverwillow
This series just keeps getting better and better. These are not cosy murder mysteries, tragedy haunts these pages. Winspear really evokes a sense of London between the wars and how the events of the first world war were never really buried with the dead.


Macavity Award (Nominee — Historical Mystery — 2007)
Agatha Award (Nominee — Novel — 2006)




0805078983 / 9780805078985
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