To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

Hardcover, 2018

Call number





Harper (2018), 336 pages


Spring 1940. Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the disappearance of a local lad, a young apprentice craftsman working on a 'hush hush' government contract. As Maisie's inquiry reveals a possible link to the London underworld, another mother is worried about a missing son. But this time the boy in question is one beloved by Maisie.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Kathy89
This is another wonderful Maisie story but . . . . but a sad one as tragedy strikes friends of Maisie. Pub owners from down the street come to Maisie because they have not heard from their 15 yr old son in two weeks while he is off painting military buildings for a private company. Maisie uses her contacts to find out where he's working and when she locates him, it's to identify his body. This starts the story because Maisie knows the boy and doesn't believe it was death by misadventure. Meanwhile, there's lots going on in the personal lives of Billy's family, Priscilla's family, and Maisie's guardianship with little Anna.… (more)
LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
I'm afraid this was my least favorite of the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie's exploits in trying to solve the murder of a young man apprenticed to paint buildings in WWII were pretty tame. For me it lacked drama. Near the end, Maisie explains why she doesn't confront the criminal boss herself, but it left the book rather flat for me. Hope the next one is better. Have enjoyed all the rest.… (more)
LibraryThing member MM_Jones
Wonderful series featuring a female detective who uses a psychological approach to solving problems. It gives easy access to British history circa 1930s & 40s. This novel is not the strongest in the series as it depends too heavily on prior knowledge of the recurring characters.
LibraryThing member shazjhb
Interesting story and I do love all the people featured in her books.
LibraryThing member hemlokgang
Oh Maisie! Another wonderful installment, #14, in this great series. This time, set in England in 1940, the reader experiences the mounting tensions of WWII. The bettle,at Dunkirk comes alive too. As always, Ms. Winspear is able to tell a poignant story while evoking a broad range of emotion in the reader by delving into the psychological world of characters from all walks of life who find themselves in a wide range of difficulties.… (more)
LibraryThing member brangwinn
Oh, Maisy Dobbs, helps Scotland Yard fight corruption in military contracts as she solves the mystery of the death of a neighbor’s son. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story than that. As in many series, its advisable to have read the other books for much of the story line depends on character development.
LibraryThing member terran
Another solid entry in a series I always read and enjoy. Maisie Dobbs is asked to check up on a neighbor's son who is working as a painter on a secret military project in WWII England. There are many historical details and facts brought to play in each of Winspear's books and each character develops further in every book. Very satisfying.… (more)
LibraryThing member pennykaplan
I really enjoy this series by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie and her helper Billy are engaging main characters, and the setting and plotting interesting. Spring 1940 they are investigating the disappearance of a young painting apprentice working on a secret government contract in a case that “is a reminder of the inextricable link between money and war.” Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member themulhern
Maisie fails to keep her cool, the series continues interesting, if overwrought. Now I must wait for the next book in the series, as it is not yet published. The good thing about this series is that the details of each individual book do not need to be retained in the memory very well; it is the overall dramatic arc, the minutiae of living in post WWI and now WWII England, that are most important. I have never read another series in which the author dwelt so much on the disgustingness and appalling odor of public telephone boxes. I am also utterly daunted by Maisie's ability to make and keep numerous crucial appointments every single day.… (more)
LibraryThing member jamespurcell
Another fine book in this excellent series. Mysteries, greed and the occasional spy sustain the storyline quite well. The use of small skeins of history create an authentic picture of the life and times as England prepares for the Battle of Britain.
LibraryThing member etxgardener
This is the 15th book in the Maisie Dobbs detective series and, after faltering for a couple of books, Maisie seems to be back in true form. World War II has begun and Germany has just started its offensive that will lead to the fall of France. Maisie has been asked by the local publican to discover what has happened to his youngest son who has been apprenticed to a painting contractor charged with painting air bases with flame retardant paint. The young man is dead, supposedly fallen from a railway viaduct. But did he really fall? Or was he pushed or thrown?

Meanwhile, Tim, the middle son of Maisie's best friend, Priscilla, takes it into his head to go off with his best friend and rescue the troops at Dunkirk; and Maisie is trying to adopt the young war orphan, Anna; and did we mention the German spy in the basement of Maisie's office building?

No, it really isn't a mess. The threads of the various plots are deftly woven together, along with, I suspect, the teaser for the next book. We're glad that Ms. Winspear is out of whatever funk she had been in, and that Maisie is back in fine form. We're going to need her to win World War II!
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LibraryThing member delphimo
My journey with Maisie Dobbs draws to a close as I complete the books in this series. England braces for war, but so far, the war seems distant and non-existent until soldiers return from France and encounters with Germany. Jacqueline Winspear harangues on the greed, horror, and inhumanity of the war. The relationships of families and friends and enemies undercover the difficult times and the indirect casualties of the war. Winspear also displays the problems of women regarding rights and advantages. The story of Anna continues with a promise of hope and redemption.… (more)
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
The Second World War is underway as this installment of the Maisie Dobbs series opens. The landlord of the pub across the street from Maisie’s office approaches her about locating his missing son. Joe Coombes is still too young for military service, but old enough to work in a civil support role away from home. Joe is part of a work crew contracted to paint military air fields with a special fire retardant paint. Joe’s parents are concerned because his personality seems to have changed in recent weeks, and he’s complaining of severe headaches. Joe’s parents haven’t heard from him in more than a week, and their worry motivates them to ask Maisie to find out where he is and if he’s alright. Meanwhile, Maisie’s friend, Priscilla, continues to worry about her three sons as they serve as a constant reminder of the three brothers she lost in the last war. Middle son Tim gives all who love him a scare as he sets out to do something both incredibly brave and incredibly foolish. Finally, Maisie begins the process to gain permanent custody of her orphaned ward, Anna, who is recuperating from measles.

I always look forward to spending time with Maisie, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others because the various threads weren’t tied up as neatly as I’ve come to expect in this series. Maisie’s desire to adopt Anna and the vetting she’s undergoing of her suitability as a parent affects the way she conducts her investigation. Even her assistant, Billy, notices this and comments on it. In this instance, the case took a backseat to Maisie’s personal life and the lives of her friends and associates.
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LibraryThing member acargile
This is one of my favorite Maisie Dobbs. I like the books that take place in England and we have all of the people from the past. I find the audio outstanding.




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