Friday, June 3, 2016
Book Review: JOURNEY TO MUNICH
HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Winspear
ISBN: 978-0-06-222060-8; hardcover (March 29, 2016)
320pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S.
Journey to Munich is a 2016 suspense and spy novel from author Jacqueline Winspear. It is the 12th novel in the series starring “psychologist and investigator,” Maisie Dobbs, a British nurse whose adventures take place during World War I and in the decades that follow. Journey to Munich is set in early 1938 and finds Maisie on a mission in Hitler's Germany for the British Secret Service.
Journey to Munich opens in Holland Park, London, February 1938. Maisie Dobbs is back in England and is still mourning her late husband, James Compton. She struggles to find her place in life and to decide what her plans are. Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the British Secret Service, however, just so happen to have plans for Maisie.
The German government has agreed to release Leon Donat, a British subject that it has imprisoned. An industrialist and inventor, Donat is highly coveted by the British government because they see him as important if Britain has to go to war. Germany has apparently imprisoned Donat in Dachau, and they will only release him to a family member. However, Donat's daughter and only child, Edwina Donat, is seriously ill, and his wife is deceased. Huntley and MacFarlane want Maisie, who bears a striking resemblance to Edwina, to go undercover as the daughter and to travel to Munich where she will retrieve Donat from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.
Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie faces unexpected dangers and finds herself on a second mission. John Otterburn, the man whom Maisie holds responsible for her husband's death, asks her to find his estranged daughter, Elaine. It is an additional mission that will take Maisie deeper into the darkness that is Hitler's Germany.
I think that Journey to Munich can be a bit difficult to categorize because the middle-aged Maisie Dobbs does not seem like the typical secret agent. Her age or physical appearance does not preclude her from being a spy, though. This is also the first Maisie Dobbs novel that I have read, although I first heard of the series several years ago.
Journey to Munich blends the spy/secret agent genre with the historical drama. In some ways, I guess that the best way to describe Journey to Munich is as an old-fashioned novel of intrigue and suspense. The hero enters the belly of the best, the heart of darkness, the evil empire – in this instance, Hitler's Germany of the late 1930s.
When you think of the novel that way, Journey to Munich is a fantastic read. The almost-wartime thriller offers intrigue on the razor's edge, but that is balanced by philosophical musings on time, love, and loss. This narrative has an appreciation for freedom, something many of us take for granted. After everything that happens, Maisie learns that she is lucky to have freedom, so she should use it. As good as the intrigue and suspense is, this appreciation for loved ones and for freedom is a cherry on top that makes me want to read more Maisie Dobbs.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a "I Reads You"
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