where the writers are
Mystery Tales of Terror, Murder and the Surreal
Date of Review: 
Tom Nolan
The Wall Street Journal

Maisie Dobbs, the "psychologist and investigator" in Jacqueline Winspear's popular mystery series set in England in the first decades of the 20th century, is a person ahead of her time. Dobbs is an independent woman who earns her own living (and insists on being paid well), drives a sporty MG and perceives a victim within each villain. In a Sherlock Holmesian way, she practices the Eastern art of meditation; and like a modern-day profiler, she constructs a "template" of a criminal's personality and behavior as an aid to learning his whereabouts and identity.

A certain modern tinge also attaches to the London of 1931 that we see in the sixth Maisie Dobbs novel, the absorbing and exciting "Among the Mad" (Holt, 303 pages, $25). A terrorist cell stalks the city, committing grotesque acts of violence involving chemical weapons and the murder of a junior government minister. But who are the killers and what do they want? Is it a band of Oswald Mosley's fascists? An Irish Republican Army faction? The angry supporters of shell-shocked World War I veterans who have been denied pensions? Whoever the culprits are, it's clear that they "would kill to be heard."