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dangerous place coverJacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series takes a darker turn with A Dangerous Place.

Reeling from tragedy, Maisie isolates herself from her usual crew of friends and family in an attempt to heal. While avoiding home with a stop in Gibraltar, Maisie stumbles across a dead body and a tiny flame of investigative curiosity ignites in her damaged psyche. As Maisie digs deeper into the life of the murdered man she also learns more about the war raging over the border in Spain and the complicated politics feeding the conflict.

This is Maisie at her darkest, a reflection of both the trauma in her life and the black clouds gathering over the world political stage. And yet she is still the Maisie Dobbs readers have grown to love over the course of the series: resilient, truth-seeking, thoughtful, and compassionate. Maisie’s struggle to right herself rang true and kept me reading even when the politics of revolutionary Spain lost me, but I did miss the presence of Maisie’s long-time assistant, Billy, her best friend, Priscilla, and her father, Frankie. Winspear’s writing is, as ever, elegant and meticulously researched, portraying not just historical facts but the atmosphere of the time through the lens of Maisie’s observant eyes.

As a fan of the Maisie Dobbs series, I see how this book fits into the story arc but I did find it to be a more difficult read than earlier books. The jump from Leaving Everything Most Loved to A Dangerous Place is a big one, covering four years and a large piece of Maisie’s personal life in a few letters, and it lacks some of the relief from Maisie’s seriousness that Billy, Priscilla, and Frankie provide. And yet, I am looking forward to seeing where Maisie goes next. A Dangerous Place leaves her at a turning point, deep in the Spanish Civil War, on the brink of WWII, and about to begin again.