February 23, 2009 12:00 PM

AMONG THE MAD

by Jacqueline Winspear | []

REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO

NOVEL

Private investigator Maisie Dobbs’s London is “a desperate sort of place”—gripped by Depression hardships, haunted by war and threatened the day after Christmas by an anonymous madman who claims to have weapons of mass murder. Winspear’s sixth mystery featuring the singular Maisie—a psychologist as well as a detective—sounds very up-to-the-minute, but the year is 1931 and Maisie has only her considerable wits and empathic skill to help Scotland Yard identify the killer. The hunt gets the pulse racing, but the real draw is Maisie herself, a wonderfully nuanced character—emancipated and pragmatic, but also burdened by battlefield ghosts from her service as a nurse during the Great War. That Maisie’s traumas help her understand the criminal mind is just one of the unexpected depths of this engrossing mystery.

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