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.
Sue Grafton Memorial Award Finalist for the best novel in a series
Martin Cruz Smith Award Finalist for best suspense/mystery novel
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.
—Library Journal, Starred Review
—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.