Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Elegy for Eddie

Summary: Maisie Dobbs—psychologist, investigator, and "one of the great fictional heroines, equal parts haunted and haunting" (Parade)—returns in a chilling adventure, the latest chapter in Jacqueline Winspear's bestselling series. 

Early April 1933. To the costermongers of Covent Garden—sellers of fruit and vegetables on the streets of London—Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. When Eddie is killed in a violent accident, the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about the cause of his death. Who would want to kill Eddie—and why? 

Maisie Dobbs' father, Frankie, had been a costermonger, so she had known the men since childhood. She remembers Eddie fondly and is determined to offer her help. But it soon becomes clear that powerful political and financial forces are equally determined to prevent her from learning the truth behind Eddie's death. Plunging into the investigation, Maisie begins her search for answers on the working-class streets of Lambeth where Eddie had lived and where she had grown up. The inquiry quickly leads her to a callous press baron; a has-been politician named Winston Churchill, lingering in the hinterlands of power; and, most surprisingly, to Douglas Partridge, the husband of her dearest friend, Priscilla. As Maisie uncovers lies and manipulation on a national scale, she must decide whether to risk it all to see justice done. 

The story of a London affected by the march to another war years before the first shot is fired and of an innocent victim caught in the crossfire, Elegy for Eddie is Jacqueline Winspear's most poignant and powerful novel yet. -- Harper

A few days ago, I participated in a Maisie Dobbs twitter chat with Book Club Girl and some other Maisie fans. There were three interesting things that struck me about this fun activity. First, a few of the participants had already finished Jacqueline Winspear's latest novel ELEGY FOR EDDIE and were raving about it, so I immediately had to drop everything and pick up this book. Second, I suggested that they we need some vintage Maisie tee-shirts based on the gorgeous cover art for the books. I'm sure hoping that the folks at Harper Collins can work something out because I would love to own a Maisie tee! And finally, we were asked what our favorite Maisie book was; and I answered, "Whatever one I'm reading at the time." If you've read some of the Maisie books, then you know how true this is.

I had fairly high expectations when I picked up ELEGY FOR EDDIE (especially after the twitter chat), and I can definitely say that Ms. Winspear has done it again! ELEGY FOR EDDIE is a wonderful mystery and it encompasses everything I've come to know and love about the Maisie mysteries. It just might be my favorite Maisie book yet, but I always say that about the most recent one I've read. ELEGY FOR EDDIE had the perfect blend of mystery and Maisie's personal story, and I absolutely adored it!

In ELEGY FOR EDDIE, the ninth book in the series, Maisie finds herself investigating the death of Eddie, a costermonger who was killed in a violent factory accident. Since Maisie's father was a former costermonger, she wants to assist her father's friends in whatever way she can, and she soon finds out that there is more to Eddie's "accidental" death than what appears at the surface. Maisie discovers that there are many political and financial secrets surrounding his death, as well as the possible involvement of some major power players in London politics. She even learns that some of her closest friends might know something and potentially be involved themselves.

The mystery surrounding Eddie's death was extremely well done -- no surprise there. There were lots of twists and turns and the clues surrounding the murder itself were pretty complex. Of course, I had no idea where the story was going for the first three quarters of the novel, but fortunately, Maisie did. As the story unfolded, I was once again amazed by just how tight the mystery plot was and how everything came together so well at the end of the novel.

However, I also truly appreciated the storyline about Maisie's personal life. Just when I thought she might be finding some semblance of happiness with her love interest James, Maisie begins to question what she wants out of their relationship. Again, I shouldn't have been surprised because Maisie is an extremely complex character who just happens to be dealing with a lot of major baggage. I thought Ms. Winspear also did a great job of showing some of the conflicts in Maisie's life like balancing work versus personal time and the guilt she has over her financial circumstances. None of the Maisie books are particularly upbeat, and ELEGY FOR EDDIE was no exception. My heart just broke for Maisie as I read this novel and because so much of the aspects of her personal life were left open-ended, I am so curious to see where the next book takes her.

Finally, one of the best things about the Maisie books is the setting. This story takes place after World War I, but some Londoners are sensing that trouble is brewing on the horizon in the form of a certain Adolf Hitler. Ms. Winspear manages to capture the look and feel of this time period perfect from the descriptions of the city streets to the fashion of the time; however, I think her real gift is conveying the atmosphere of London in the 1930s. In ELEGY FOR EDDIE, she includes so much about the political environment in the years leading up to World War II; and I have to say that I found some of her concepts to be absolutely fascinating.

Dobbs books and ELEGY FOR EDDIE was another fantastic one. I highly recommend not only checking out this book, but the entire Maisie series. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Serena said...

I cannot wait to read all the other books in this series. As part of the tour, I read my first Maisie book this year, A Lesson in Secrets...boy was that good.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't started this series yet but my mom loves it. Do you think it's necessary to read the books in order?

Julie P. said...

It might not be necessary to read them in order, but I highly recommend it!

Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed it. I can't wait to read it, having read and loved A Lesson in Secrets, but I'm going to go back and start from the beginning before reading it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm about to start my copy! I'm so excited! Wheee!