The Bassinton-Hopes are a well-to-do family of artists probably best describe as Bohemians, but for the oldest daughter Nolly. They live without concern about money amidst the Depression crushing England.
Winspear contrasts the indulgent rich with the desperate working class. There is a grind to life for the poor unnoticed by the wealthy. Terrible situations arise. Authors have a choice when dealing with bad circumstances. Do they shy away? Winspear is an honest writer. She does not flinch. Her characters undergo genuine adversity.
As the investigation proceeds it is clear Nick was an exceptional artist especially with regard to World War I where he was a member of the Artists Rifles. (A unit that has ultimately become the famous SAS.)
Nick has used his art to escape the dark depths of his Great War. It is believed his masterpiece is his defining view of the war. What could he portray in a triptych of the war that could be deadly?
In a beautiful phrase he is described as an artist who could touch the truth in his work. He is a war artist burdened with the vision to see war with a clarity denied the ordinary man. Last month Michael and I saw the powerful paintings of such artists at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Two years ago Sharon and I had been moved by an exhibition of Canada’s war artists at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg. Having seen their works from every conflict in which Canada’s military has participated in the past 100 years I can appreciate the emotion Nick’s masterpiece churned up within his killer.
Maisie continues to gain psychological insights from imitating physical actions but her most effective investigative tool is her ability to listen. She has an extraordinary empathy that draws out those talking to her. Maisie is really a member of the private procedural school of investigation with her attention to detail and organization.
A thoroughly modern Maisie distances herself from her suitor, Dr. Andrew Dene, as she desires independence more than relationship. As a woman of the 1930’s she cannot see a marriage where she can pursue her career.
Maisie continues her quest that “those affected by my work are at peace with the outcome”. For a lawyer who is a litigator it is a rare trial or even a settlement that produces such peace. To have peace after conflict requires acceptance and, often forgiveness. Both traits are rarer in the real world than Maisie’s world. An excellent book. (Apr. 8/11)