The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

Image of The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Release Date: 
March 26, 2019
Publisher/Imprint: 
Harper
Pages: 
384

“Once more, Winspear demonstrates her exceptional ability to craft a suspenseful mystery and graphic picture of a critical time and place.”

In The American Agent, ninth in Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs mystery series, a Scotland Yard inquiry puts Maisie in relentless peril—the nightly terror of England’s Word War II blitzkrieg.

The story’s intrigue begins when American war correspondent Catherine Saxon is murdered in her London apartment. Since Saxon’s death threatens to jeopardize U.S. aid Britain so desperately needs, a careful inquiry is absolutely essential.

Scotland Yard turns to the one person who can discreetly look into the woman’s death, private investigator M. Dobbs. Saxon impressed Maisie when the spunky correspondent joined an ambulance run the night before her murder. The budding Edward R. Murrow deserves justice, so Maisie takes the case.

As Maisie explains, “I thought she had heart, that she was compassionate, and those qualities were demonstrated in her broadcast. That’s why I want to stand at her side and show my respect.”

Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t be worse because the mission’s danger could compromise adoption of orphaned evacuee Anna, a child Maisie desperately loves. To further complicate her personal life, Maisie finds herself falling for Mark Scott, a U.S. Justice Department agent and her partner in Saxon’s investigation. At the center of this complex international and personal intrigue is a believable female protagonist who is simultaneously vulnerable and self-reliant.

Through Maisie, her best friend Pricilla, and both their families seeking safety in the countryside, readers experience the unrelenting din, blood, and terror of England in the grips of a ruthless enemy. Day after day, British citizens grab blankets plus whatever food they can manage and traipse underground for another sleepless night of bombing.

Seated on bench after another horrific night, Maisie thinks back on her life just a few years earlier. “In snatches—a second here, a second there—she could imagine London before the war. “It was a London without the vaporous smell of burning in the air, a London without barrage balloons overhead, without sandbagged buildings, and barbed wire around government offices. Now it was a London where tension was threaded into the fabric of life . . .”

The story ends at Maisie’s country home as she and Mark Scott stand side by side to watch the V formation of German bombers heading for London. Across the pasture, “once again, old Mr. Avis could be seen shaking his fist and shouting at the sky, before aiming his rifle toward the bombers.”

In this way, Winspear leaves her readers in a scene characteristically rich in humanity, humor, and intimacy and so very real.