Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

My reviews of the first five books in the series: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, An Incomplete Revenge.

Christmas, 1931. Not the happiest of holidays. Doreen, the wife of Maisie’s assistant Billy Beale, is still suffering severe mental anguish about the death of their daughter a year ago, to the point where she can barely care for their two boys. And yet, the Beales are in a better position than many in London. There are men everywhere with war injuries both physical and psychological. This is something Maisie knows all too well after her own wartime injuries and the psychological scar that is only just now healing. The pain of so many, though, is brought into stark relief when a man commits suicide with a grenade on a busy street right in front of Maisie, knocking her unconscious. As if a concussion wasn’t bad enough, an anonymous letter writer threatening the lives of Members of Parliament if something is not done to draw attention to the plight of the invisible veterans. Now Maisie must give up her solitary ways and work with Scotland Yard in order to find this man before he unleashes havoc on all of London.

This is the part where I start to get all gushy about this series. I said in my review of An Incomplete Revenge that I really, really liked it, and that it was the best of the series so far. Well, Among the Mad blew An Incomplete Revenge out of the water. Part of the appeal of Among the Mad was the necessary immediacy, the initial note giving them only two days before the writer began taking unspecified action. Unlike the other Maisie Dobbs books, it had elements of a police procedural, but it also got even deeper into the psychological ramifications of the war on the British people than any of the previous books.

Between the focus on shell shock and psychological affects of warfare and the increased sense of danger and anticipation, I could simply not put Among the Mad down and I absolutely cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series.

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Source: Personal copy.
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8 comments to Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

  • Oh my gosh, I’m reading this right now. How does she keep getting better? Really, I’m getting a little embarrassed to keep saying “this is my favorite” but Holy Cow. They just keep getting better.

  • All these Maisie review are really making me anxious to read this series.

  • I’m glad you’re finding the earlier books so good. I’m half way through the latest Maisie Dobbs which is book eight. But this is the first one I’ve read. I’m enjoying it immensely and although I’m finding it’s not necessary to have read the previous books to follow the plot I can see there is an enormous amount of back story that I now want to read.

  • Yay! Glad you are continuing to enjoy the series. I didn’t read it quite as fast as you are, but I did wind up reading the first few in one year, which is very rare for me. It’s one of few series I am actually caught-up in! I enjoy watching others discover the series. :)

    • I probably wouldn’t have read it this fast if it weren’t for the readalong, which is discussing a new book every 2 weeks. Of course, this one was so good I’m having a hard time waiting until AFTER the readalong discussion to read the next one.

  • With every review of these books I see, my desire to start from the begining just keeps growing and growing.

  • One thing I forgot to note in my BookClubGirl comment… I loved how Winspear used the ever-present fog and mist as a part of the setting; it really tied in well with the madness theme, I thought.

    I found I was feeling a little frustrated with Maisie by the end of An Incomplete Revenge… I was ready for her to move on already and embrace life. I bounced back with Among the Mad and *really* loved Mapping of Love and Death. I’m about to start re-reading it and then I really don’t think I’ll be able to wait for the group to start A Lesson in Secrets.