Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review: Among The Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Photo taken from Goodreads

 Book Info

Title:  Among the Mad 

Author:  Jacqueline Winspear 
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.
Language: English
Format:  Paperback 
Pages:  320 pages
ISBN-10:  0805082166
ISBN-13:  978-0805082166
Source:  Purchased, Booksale


From Goodreads:

"It’s Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister’s office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met—and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard’s elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane’s personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case. Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie’s trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia’s abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people. And before this harrowing case is over, Maisie must navigate a darkness not encountered since she was a nurse in wards filled with shell-shocked men."


I have always been into mysteries, thrillers, and those types of stories, and when I was younger, I loved Nancy Drew.  Now I am into the Alex Cross series by James Patterson, and after reading this book by Ms. Winspear, I may have just found another sleuth hero.

This book started off with a suicide of mysterious man in the streets of London using a Mills bomb, which Maisie and her assistant Billy witnessed.  Then next, a mysterious letter threatening to wreak havoc if certain conditions were not met was sent to the Home Security, mentioning Maisie Dobb's name, which automatically links her to the investigation.  As she was recruited into Scotland Yard's team investigating into this mystery, she finds herself back into the time when she herself was suffering from 'shell shock' now termed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD after World War I and trying to break free from its brutal hold.

What I liked a lot about this book was that although this was the sixth in a series, you could still read it on its own and not feel too left out.  It also discussed something about mental disorders and was still able to include a mystery.  This book was loaded with various plots, and the execution was brilliant.

Maisie Dobbs appeared to be a very introspective kind of person - surely she must be able to have a good grasp of her inner self, otherwise she would not be that good of an investigator.  She was very honest with how she felt and what she needed to do that there was absolutely no hesitation regarding important decisions.  It just made me scream 'Girl Power!' at the top of my lungs, especially when she was browbeating some hotshot people into putting them into their respective places.  But although she was a very strong, brave, and intelligent woman, there was also a gentleness and sensitivity in her personality that made her such a good friend and powerful ally.  She never failed to consider other people's feelings and even in situations where she was confronted by less-than pleasant situations, she still respected and treated other people well.  

This book was not just a simple mystery story.  It also delved deeper into Maisie's thoughts and feelings which gave a good character development for our protagonist.  I saw how in the first few chapters, she was unsure of herself, of ever going back to her normal life after her experience in the war, how her scars had yet to heal completely.  But towards the end, I found a spark of hope in her life as she decided to take matters into her own hands and begin rolling with the punches and living in the present, putting the past behind.  Her character was written very creatively that readers would surely be able to identify with her personality and learn a thing or two from her life.  The other characters were also very colorful and lent action and excitement into the story.

Story-wise, it was very fast-paced, sometimes I felt that there were very premature revelations but it added to the feel of this book being more than just a mystery thriller.  The dialogue was strong and solid, and each character's voices were distinct and appropriate for their personalities.  I also felt that the narrator's voice, although it was in the third person, sounded very much like Maisie's which was I thought very fitting since this book is mainly about her and how she coped through crisis.  It afforded the readers the experience to delve into Maisie's head, but it also gave us a clear view of everything happening in the story, of also knowing what went on beyond Maisie's thoughts - even behind her back.

I am very glad to have picked this up, and at a second-hand shop at that, so it cost less.  I just wondered why this would be sold in a used-books store and why the previous owner saw or failed to see in this book that made him/her put it away.  Because for me, I would definitely keep this one, read it again and again, and even hunt down the other books in this series, because I think I just found a new friend - Miss Maisie Dobbs.


If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way.
Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions. 

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I wouldn't think to pick this book up because it almost seems like an old fashioned hard language to understand sort of thing, but now that you've leveled it with the Alex Cross series, I'd really like to give it a read! That was an extremely long sentence. LOL!

    PS: Did you notice that I used another adjective to describe you in my 10 good things post?! I think it was Noble or something lol.


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