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Book Review: Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

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Award-winning author Jacqueline Winspear will likely garner more laurels with Messenger of Truth, the outstanding fourth mystery to feature psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs. Hired to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Nick Bassington-Hope, an artist of some renown, Maisie must determine why, if his death wasn't accidental, someone would want him dead.

Was he involved in some nefarious art scheme gone awry? Was he killed as a result of some personal vendetta? Or was it simply, as the police claim, an unfortunate accident? At one point Maisie muses that her efforts on the case are like creating a piece of art, "… building a picture across uneven terrain, telling a story by adding detail to give life and momentum to the masterwork."

Winspear's eloquent prose is abundant in Messenger of Truth. When Maisie struggles to tie together the loose threads of the case, each step of her investigation is described as "… another drop of water on stone, gradually wearing down the hard shell that time and circumstance had wrapped around clarity." Magnificent. The author also has a flair for capturing the unique speech patterns of the social classes of 1930s England.

The rationale for Nick's death seems somewhat subordinate to the articulate writing, finely drawn characters, reasoned investigative process, and atmospheric settings. Notwithstanding this, Messenger of Truth will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best mysteries of the year.

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