To Die But Once
To Die But Once opens in May 1940, and unfolds against the drama of Germany’s European advance and the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches of Dunkirk. On the home front, Maisie Dobbs becomes involved when a local pub landlord and his wife express concern about their son, who has not been in touch recently. Young Joe Coombes, a happy-go-lucky lad who is not yet sixteen years of age, has been working away from home—he is an apprentice to a painting and decorating company with a lucrative government contract, and the work requires a crew of painters to work away from home, and Joe is the youngest on the crew. His father tells Maisie that Joe had been acting strangely of late, and complaining of headaches. Could the lad have been enjoying his first taste of freedom a little too much? Or is there something more serious at the heart of his lack of contact.
Among other troubling discoveries, Maisie’s investigation uncovers a connection to a well-known London family involved in organized crime—and one member who will not hesitate to resort to extreme violence. Maisie has never shied away from danger, but now there’s someone else to consider: Anna, the orphaned evacuee she welcomed into her home and her affections. And as she does her best to reconcile her professional and personal responsibilities, two people close to Maisie’s heart put their lives at risk among the Dunkirk flotilla. But the investigator—who knows far too much about the tragic cost of war and the peril facing soldiers stranded on the beaches of France and their rescuers—is powerless to do anything except wait.
“A first-rate historical mystery.”
“In addition to providing a very good mystery, Winspear does a smashing job describing the bravery exhibited by everyday Britons as the fear of invasion becomes ever more real.”
“Winspear has created another rich reading experience for Maisie’s many fans, but this title could be seen as entry point for new fans as well. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a thoughtful mystery.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“History comes alive when a character you think of as a friend is in the thick of the action. That’s how Jacqueline Winspear keeps her Maisie Dobbs mysteries so fresh.”
—New York Times
“A novel that appeals equally to the intellect and the emotions, To Die But Once advances Maisie’s engaging story and reaffirms Winspear’s eminence in her field.”
—Richmond-Times Dispatch (read more here)
“To Die But Once highlights the direct and indirect costs of war. Maisie Dobbs is always looking for truth and the underlying motives in her cases. Her stories are ones that this reviewer always wants to read because of her character, values and thoughts on life.”
“If you are a fan of the indomitable Maisie Dobbs, you will be riveted by her latest adventures. If you are new to her, To Die But Once is a great place to start.”
“Maisie finds herself tested to her emotional limits by the various plights of her clients, family and friends. Her empathetic nuances make To Die But Once a joy to read, in spite of its sometimes sad subject matter. Historical fiction admirers are sure to devour the latest entry in this delightful historical mystery series.”