About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

19. – 578.) Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs is consulted by an ambivalent Georgina Bassington-Hope, a well known journalist and member of a great English eccentric family. Her brother, Nick, has died in a fall from a scaffolding at a gallery where he was preparing an exhibition of his never seen masterpiece. Maisie and Billy Beale undertake the investigation. Did he accidentally fall? Was he pushed? Did he choose to jump?
            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)

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