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The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel


The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

The opening of THE AMERICAN AGENT finds protagonist Maisie Dobbs returning to her roots, in a way.

When readers first met Maisie more than a dozen volumes earlier, she became a young nurse during the Great War, on her way to becoming a private investigator. Now, with England deep in the throes of another world war, Maisie has taken up service again, this time driving ambulances with her best friend, Priscilla Partridge, transporting victims of German bombing raids during the intense nighttime bombings in London known as the Blitz. This is dangerous and frightening work, to be sure, but it also offers Maisie and Priscilla, now both middle-aged, opportunities to still make a difference during wartime. For Priscilla, in particular, it serves as a distraction from her increasingly complicated personal life. Ever since her son was injured in battle, he has pushed his mother away, much to her anguish.

"Maisie solves the crime (naturally), but just as compelling is her own personal journey, which leaves her poised to begin yet another new chapter of her eventful life."

On the night when the novel opens, Maisie and Priscilla are accompanied on their nightly mission by Catherine Saxon, an American journalist who hopes to become one of Edward R. Murrow’s “boys,” American reporters tasked with telling the stories of Londoners during the Blitz to listeners back home. Maisie likes Catherine, and responds positively to the young woman’s intelligence and empathy, so she’s especially stunned to learn that Catherine has been killed --- not by a falling German bomb but by a murder weapon.

Soon Maisie --- who has been drafted to do some consulting work for Scotland Yard --- has been called in on the case, along with an old acquaintance, the American Mark Scott, with whom Maisie had a somewhat dramatic encounter a couple of volumes back. Scott claims to have connections to the case because Catherine’s father is a US Senator, a noted isolationist who resents his daughter’s journalistic attempts to spark American involvement in the war. Such a politically sensitive matter heightens the importance of the case.

As she investigates, Maisie finds common ground not only with Catherine, but also with other women whose lives have touched hers. And as Maisie comes closer to the truth behind this increasingly emotional case, she is on the verge of an emotional change of her own, as she has applied for legal adoption of Anna, the young evacuee for whom she has been caring. Anna’s imminent adoption hearing, plus Maisie’s growing attraction to Scott, have her wondering if she might be ready to risk loving again, despite her history of devastating loss and heartbreak. She must decide if she can trust this charismatic but secretive man --- and if she can trust her own heart.

Jacqueline Winspear’s latest novel is romantic and emotionally intense in several different ways, as Maisie grapples with her unexpected role as mother, as well as a sudden shift in her friendship with Priscilla. It also offers an intense portrayal of how ordinary British residents attempted to manage their ordinary lives amid extraordinary and traumatic circumstances. Maisie solves the crime (naturally), but just as compelling is her own personal journey, which leaves her poised to begin yet another new chapter of her eventful life.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 29, 2019

The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
by Jacqueline Winspear