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.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear - A couple of years ago I finished Leaving Everything Most Loved with Maisie Dobbs headed to India to reflect on her future and whether it would be with James Compton who loves her so deeply. I was hoping she would say “yes” after 6 months, but unsure. I thought often of Maisie who is so real to me. At Christmas I finally bought A Dangerous Place.

In a mere 9 pages of the opening chapter I went through a rush of emotions I have seldom experienced in any series. For those who have not read A Dangerous Place or are earlier in the series it is best not to read further in this post.

In those few pages tumultuous pages I was delighted by Maisie’s one word telegram of “yes”. It was a joy to read of their wedding in England and move to Canada. I was excited Maisie became pregnant. And then I was crushed when James was killed in an airplane accident and Maisie lost the baby. I groaned aloud. 

Maisie lost her first love, Simon, some years after WW I ended from the injuries he suffered in the war. Now her second love is gone. In her grief she returns to India where she felt at peace.

I have not experienced comparable losses. I did think of my paternal grandfather. He lost his first love in northern Norway in the late 19th Century when she broke through ice while skiing to town to sell milk. He married after coming to North America. When my father was 2 he lost my grandmother, Anna Marie, when she and their second child died of complications after the birth of the baby. Grandfather Carl never remarried. I did not know him. I expect the combined losses were too great for him to face another relationship.

After grieving for over a year in India Brenda, her father’s second wife, in a beautiful letter to Maisie calls on her to come home:

Maisie, I’m not one for writing long letters, but there are things that need to be said, and if you know this already, then consider it a reminder. Your father and I both understand what you’ve gone through - your dad watched your mother die of that terrible disease, and I lost my first husband and child. Between us women, we all know that the death of a child, even one not born, is a terrible thing to bear - and you were so late on, really. Then on top of seeing your dear James lose his life, well, that’s just beyond imagination. My heart aches for you, Maisie, really it does. But that doesn’t stop me saying what needs to be said now. Your father wouldn’t want me to write this letter, so this is between you and me. Frankie isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be eighty years old next year, and though his only complaint is that limp from the accident a few years ago, time is written across his face, and he misses you. We all miss you.

It’s time to come home, Maisie. I know you must be scared, imagining how difficult it will be seeing the places where you and James courted, and having to face the grief all over again. Not that I think grief is something you put behind you in the snap of a finger. But come home, Maisie. If for nothing else, come for your dad. You’ll be safe at home, dear love - we’re family. We’ll look after each other. I promise you that.

Yours most truly,

As a front line nurse in the Great War, wounded in the same attack as Simon, Maisie had experienced death on a scale that may be rivaled but never exceeded by other wars.

Her best friend, Priscella, lost all her brothers.

I have written of the eloquence and literary skill of the generation that fought in the Great War. A collection of their haunting poetry is in Anthem for Doomed Youth.

I expect Maisie was familiar with Wilfrid Gibson’s poem, Lament,  which is included in that anthology:

We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain,
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly, and spent
Their all for us, loved too the sun and rain? 
A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings –
But we, how shall we turn to little things,
And listen to the birds and winds and streams
Made holy by their dreams,
Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?

An author has captured the heart and soul of a character when you grieve for their losses.


  1. That is, I think, part of Winspear's talent, Bill. She makes her characters really feel alive, so that you care very deeply for them, and so that when they have a loss, you feel it. I'm not surprised you were deeply affected by the book, and I give Winspear credit for her skill. I like the way she shares the details of time and place, too, so that the reader has a solid context.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I knew I cared about Maisie. I had not realized how superbly Winspear had brought me to care about Maisie. I felt sad when she lost Simon but not the crushing regret over James dying.

  2. A very touching post, Bill. It speaks well not only of Winspear but also of you.

    1. Christophe: Thanks for the comment and the kind words.

  3. Not an author I have previously considered reading, one to ponder I think.

    1. Col: Thanks for the comment. Maisie is not a dark character but she has experienced great sorrow. In the NY Times review of the first book the reviewer said prepare to be astonished. I was astonished.