Monday, July 31, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
A Maisie Dobbs Mystery
Henry Holt and Company (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-8050-7898-3 (0805078983)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7898-5 (9780805078985)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): 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 infamous figure in her own right, isn't convinced.

When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate 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.

Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of Nick's death, Maisie will have to keep her head as the forces behind the artist's fall come out of the shadows to silence her.

Review: Multiple award winning author Jacqueline Winspear will likely garner more laurels with Messenger of Truth, the outstanding fourth mystery to feature psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs.

Hired to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Nick Bassington-Hope, an artist of some renown, Maisie must determine why, if his death wasn't accidental, someone would want him dead. Was he involved in some nefarious art scheme gone awry? Was he killed as a result of some personal vendetta? Or was it simply, as the police claim, an unfortunate accident? At one point Maisie muses that her efforts on the case are like creating a piece of art, "... building a picture across uneven terrain, telling a story by adding detail to give life and momentum to the masterwork."

Winspear's eloquent prose is abundant in Messenger of Truth. When Maisie struggles to tie together the loose threads of her case, each step of her investigation is described as "... another drop of water on stone, gradually wearing down the hard shell that time and circumstance had wrapped around clarity." Magnificent. The author also has a flair for capturing the unique speech patterns of the social classes of 1930s England.

The rationale for Nick's death seems somewhat subordinate to the articulate writing, finely drawn characters, reasoned investigative process, and atmospheric settings. Notwithstanding this, Messenger of Truth will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best mysteries of the year.

Special thanks to FSB Associates for providing an ARC of Messenger of Truth for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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