A Lesson in Secrets

A Maisie Dobbs Novel
A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2011. c.336p. ISBN 9780061727672. $25.99. M
Peace can be as deadly as war. Winspear's (The Mapping of Love and Death) eighth Maisie Dobbs mystery opens in 1932 with Maisie accepting an assignment from the British secret service to infiltrate the newly opened College of St. Francis by posing as a philosophy lecturer. That position will enable her to scrutinize the controversial founder, Greville Liddicote, as well as the school's activities and students. Greville's purpose in creating the school is to promote peaceful relations among cultures. The children's books that he wrote are rumored to have caused mutiny among the military during World War I. When Greville is murdered, Maisie becomes concerned, especially when she finds some faculty members are part of a pro-Hitler organization. What dark forces could have destroyed this man of peace? Maisie must sift through the past to find out.
VERDICT Winspear strikes the right balance between cozy mystery setting and her intelligent, street-savvy PI. The story adroitly presents a post-World War I world while foreshadowing the next global conflict. Recommended for fans of historical mysteries like those by Charles Todd. [See Prepub Alert, 11/15/10.]

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