Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Journey to Munich

Summary: Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue—the twelfth novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s New York Times bestselling “series that seems to get better with each entry” (Wall Street Journal).

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . -- Harper

Note: The second paragraph of the book summary from the publisher's website isn't quite accurate. The British subject's wife is dead and his daughter is seriously ill.

It seems like it's been way too long since a Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear has been released, but I'm excited to say that the latest, JOURNEY TO MUNICH, comes out tomorrow! I am a huge fan of the Maisie Dobbs books, and I'm proud to say that I've read every single one. I think these books are outstanding from the characters, to the setting, to the mysteries.

JOURNEY TO MUNICH is the twelfth book in the series, and I thought it was fantastic. In this novel, Maisie gets to work with the British Secret Service on an undercover job. It's 1938 and she has recently returned to England after spending some time as a nurse in Spain. She needed some time to compose herself after the loss of her husband and baby.

Maisie is living with her best friend Priscilla and doesn't really have any plans for her future. That is... until members of the Secret Service ask her to assume an undercover role in Hitler's Germany. The German government has captured Leon Donat, a successful British businessman and publisher, and placed him in Dachau. They have agreed to release him but only to a family member. The Secret Service is asking Maisie to pretend she is Donat's daughter.

As if this task isn't dangerous enough, Maisie is asked by the man she blames for her husband's death to try to find his daughter, Elaine Otterburn, in Berlin. She has disappeared and left her husband and young child behind; and her family wants Maisie to bring her home. Maisie learns that Elaine might be involved in more than just partying with the Fuhrer's men!

As Maisie attempts to pull off both of these tasks, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of Hitler's rise to power and his intimidating SS men. Can she bring home Donat and Otterburn without her identity being compromised?

I loved JOURNEY TO MUNICH! Every time I read one of the Maisie Dobb's books, I forget just how much I enjoy them... and just how well done they are. For many years, I have appreciated how the books explored WWI and its aftermath; and now I'm thrilled to follow them to the brink of Hitler's regime and WWII. It was interesting to see Berlin and Hitler's rise to power. Hitler even made a brief appearance in the book!

Another aspect I liked about JOURNEY TO MUNICH (and really every Maisie Dobb's book) is how Maisie evolved throughout the book. Maisie is at a pretty dark place when this book begins, and she desperately need to find a sense of purpose. Thankfully her "friends" at the Secret Service needed her for a mission. It was fun to see Maisie use her smarts as an uncover agent, and I even liked how she made a few mishaps along the way.

I especially appreciated the ending of the story. Things were wrapped up pretty neatly and I'm so happy! I don't want to give too much away, but I can't wait for the next installment in this series. Suffice it to say that long time Maisie Dobbs' fans are going to be very excited about the future of these books.

There was a few mysteries in JOURNEY TO MUNICH and it was intriguing to see how Maisie figured things out. I thought elements of both stories (Donat's and Otterburn's) had some secrets/mysteries that were pretty well thought out. In addition, I thought the pacing of the stories was excellent. JOURNEY TO MUNICH was a quick read for me mainly because I couldn't put the book down!

Many years ago, my book club read the first Maisie Dobbs book and discussed it. It was an excellent choice and I've always thought these books lend themselves nicely to book clubs. There is a reading guide available with sixteen questions. Some of the themes you can explore include Hitler's rise in Germany, grief, serving others, self awareness, spirituality, intuition, the role of women in society, evil, and forgiveness.

I adored JOURNEY TO MUNICH! Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction and/or mysteries.

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

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.


bermudaonion said...

My mom adores this series and will be excited to know there's a new book coming out.

Unknown said...

Finished Journey to Munich 12/09/2016, enjoyed it, but thought Maisie came off rigid at times.
I thought I had all of the currently published novels, so if I am wrong, I apologize in advance for the following opinion:
I was deeply disappointed there was not an "in real time" narration of the moment Maise says "Yes" in person to James, informs their families & friends of the engagement/wedding, the planning of the wedding, the wedding, celebration, & honeymoon.
After all of the regularly, routinely negative feelings and/or comments towards love & marriage when it comes to commitment, I did think the readers would be gifted with the joyous parts of Maisie accepting, marrying, loving James.
Including the moment when Maisie tells James she is pregnant!
It seems the readers received small bits of information, mostly in flashbacks, but not how it all took place, except in the barest of details or explanations.
Did I miss a book where all of the above is truly described, or is it as I listed: minimal descriptions in short passages or details, all in flashbacks or memories?
I appreciate any enlightenment given.