When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice--Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie get out of Hitler's Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon's death. As the Germans unleash the full terror of their blitzkrieg upon the British Isles, raining death and destruction from the skies, Maisie must balance the demands of solving this dangerous case with her need to protect Anna, the young evacuee she has grown to love and wants to adopt. Entangled in an investigation linked to the power of wartime propaganda and American political intrigue being played out in Britain, Maisie will face losing her dearest friend--and the possibility that she might be falling in love again.
Maisie is balancing working as a private investigator and volunteering with her best friend Priscilla as ambulance drivers, ferrying civilians injured during the bombings of London. Maisie and Priscilla worked as ambulance drivers when we first met them many books ago during WWI.
When an American female radio war correspondent is murdered shortly after Maisie and Priscilla meet her, Maisie is asked to team up with an American Department of Justice official, Mark Scott, whom she met when she was in Spain during their Civil War.
Unlike some of the more recent Maisie Dobbs books, the action takes place all in England, and most of Maisie's friends, colleagues and family are all here- Billy and Sandra, who work for her at her private investigations agency, police investigator MacFarlane, Priscilla and her family, and Maisie's father and stepmother, along with the young orphan girl Maisie is trying to adopt.
The stakes in The American Agent are so much higher as everyone in London is endangered by the nightly German bombings. In addition to Maisie trying to find out who killed Catherine Saxon, she and her friends must worry about being killed themselves.
Real people, like a young Edward R. Murrow, make cameo appearances, and Catherine's family has a resemblance to US Ambassador to England Joseph P. Kennedy's family here. (Catherine reminded me of Kick Kennedy, who tragically died in a plane crash during WWII.) Winspear's research and attention to detail are so appreciated here.
If you are a Maisie Dobbs fan, you will enjoy this latest entry into the series. If you are not a Maisie Dobbs fan, I recommend you get on the bandwagon and start with book one, Maisie Dobbs. It's a wonderful series for high school women to read, as Maisie is a strong, smart and caring female role model. She makes mistakes, but she learns and grows from them, something we can all aspire to.
Maisie, once again, has a murder to solve, but--like the other novels--this novel presents the world and people in Maisie's life and the history of 1940 London, leaving the murder as important but not the main focus. A young American correspondent joins Pris and Maisie one night during the blitz on their ambulance. Driving an ambulance and picking up the bombing victims presents a dangerous evening. They rush into the areas where a bomb could drop or a building could collapse. On this night, members of a family have been killed as their building burns. A grandmother tries to save her grandchildren even though her daughter has died from the bombing. When the correspondent, Kath, returns home after her report, she is murdered. Maisie always believes in honoring the dead and those affected by the death, so she begins her case map and seeks to bring justice to this brave woman whose life was cut short. An American, Mark Scott, joins her on the investigation, as he represents America and Kath was the daughter of a prominent man.
Maisie works in London investigating the crime Monday through Thursday and then spends four nights with her dad, step-mother, and Anna back at Chelstone. Her hearing to adopt Anna keeps getting pushed back because of the war, and Maisie worries deeply that she'll lose her because of her dangerous job. Often the side characters "make" the novel. One of my favorite characters is Brenda, Maisie's step-mother. Brenda knows when to say something to Maisie whereas others generally trust Maisie to make the right decision, occasionally commenting their concern for her. Brenda says little but possesses much wisdom. It's when she point-blank tells Maisie something, Maisie listens.
Maisie's partner in the investigation, Mark Scott, rarely joins Maisie on the investigation. Maisie wonders if she can trust him. She questions what is really going on with the investigation, for she has boundaries to maintain. She also trusts her life with him, so does that make him trustworthy? This relationship adds another layer to a busy life of trying to stay alive, appreciating one's family, and honoring the dead all during a time that anyone's life can end today.
I think books enter our lives at the right time, and it was time to enter Maisie's world for me. I listen to these novels, so I could have misspellings anywhere because I've never seen the names or places in the books. I completely immerse myself in 1940s England and can't help but compare America then and American now against the British as they braved the blitz nightly, losing so many lives such a short time after World War I. I also listened to the first five or six novels back to back when I found the series years ago, which was the same time Downton Abbey began and I watched it as well. I may have spoken with a British accent there for a while! Nonetheless, if you like historical fiction where the series develops a character and the people and country around her, this series fits your desires. Winspear doesn't just end a novel with the solving of the case, she pulls the loose ends together and shows the value of closure. I can't recommend these novels enough.
Maisie's bestie Priscilla is also her playing a supporting role alone with Maisie's assistants Billy and Sandra, along with her father and his wife, Brenda. Besides solving the case, Maisie also seems to be finding stability and happiness in her personal life, and I hope this bodes well for future installments of this series.