August 7, 2010

Messenger of Truth

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
Mystery - Fourth in Masie Dobbs Series
2006 Audio Renaissance; Unabridged Edition
Reader: Orlagh Cassidy
Finished 7/6/10
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fair)

Product Description

London, 1931. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick's twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a infamous figure in her own right, isn't convinced.

When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city's art world.

In Messenger of Truth, Maisie once again uncovers the perilous legacy of the Great War in a society struggling to recollect itself. But to solve the mystery of Nick's death, Maisie will have to keep her head as the forces behind the artist's fall come out of the shadows to silence her.

Following on the bestselling Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear delivers another vivid, thrilling, and utterly unique episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs.

As with the earlier books in the Maisie Dobbs series, I chose to listen to this fourth installment while driving about town in my car. I enjoy hearing Orlagh Cassidy read the narrative and continue to appreciate Winspear's fine writing. However, hearing the family name "Bassington-Hope" repeated throughout the entire audio became a bit tiresome, especially when proceeded by the characters' Christian names. I'm sure if I were reading the print edition, my eyes would have skimmed right over the last name. Instead, I got to hear it over and over and over again.

And for whatever reason, whether the distractions of summer chores and travels or a less-than interesting plot, I failed to care about any of the newly introduced characters or their circumstances. As with most series, I've come to care more about the main characters than those introduced with each new installment. I still find Maisie's personal life (and that of her assistant, Billy Beale) intriguing and will continue on with An Incomplete Revenge.

While listening, I made a point to jot down chapter numbers whenever I heard a passage from which I might like to quote. I was surprised to wind up with so many. Maybe this book was intended to be read!

On grief:

“Grief is not an event, my dear, but a passage, a pilgrimage along a path that allows us to reflect upon the past from points of remembrance held in the soul. At times the way is filled with stones underfoot and we feel pained by our memories, yet on other days the shadows reflect our longing and those happinesses shared.”

On intuition:

Maisie liked to work methodically through a case, while at the same time allowing for intuition to speak for her, for truth to make itself known. Sometimes such knowledge would be inspired by something simple as an unfamiliar scent on the air, or perhaps uncovering information regarding a choice made by one of the victims. And Maisie had found that the perpetrator of a crime was often every bit as much a victim.

On death:

"I was sorry to learn that your husband was lost in France."

Nolly Grant shook her head. "Nothing lost about it. He was killed, buried over there. No, he wasn't lost, I know exactly where he is. My husband died a hero on a battlefield, fighting for his country—and proud of it, I'll have you know! Let's get down to brass tacks here, none of this 'lost' or 'passed' business. I get so fed up with all this pussy-footing around the truth. People die, they don't get lost and they don't pass anywhere either!"

On art:

Maisie recalled something that Dr. Wicker, the expert who had been so helpful at the Tate, had said in response to a question: "With a true masterpiece, there are no words required. Discourse is rendered redundant. That's why the work of a master transcends all notions of education, of class. It rises above the onlooker's understanding of what is considered good or bad, or right and wrong in the world of art. With the artist who has achieved mastery, skill, experience and knowledge are transparent, leaving only the message for all to see."

On the future:

Maisie looked through the gates and thought that, one day, she might be back, perhaps with Georgina. Or she might be invited to tea on a Saturday afternoon, drawn in, once again, to the Bassington-Hope web. Something had been ignited within her in that house. If her soul were a room, it was as if light were now shining in a corner that had been dark. And she'd been touched by something less tangible, something she'd found among people who saw nothing unusual in painting trees on walls. Perhaps it was the freedom to strike out on one's own path, seeing not a risk in that which was new, only opportunity.

Please go here to read Nan's excellent review of the book. As always, she included a couple of links, which provided additional historical background to the Masie Dobbs series.


  1. It does sound like this one might be better on paper!

  2. I started out with Maisie on audio, too. Sorry to hear this one is just fair. Maybe I should try reading when I get to it.

  3. I have tried and tried to get into audio books, Les, but they just don't work for me. My mind keeps drifting off, then I jump back into the story wondering what I missed while drifting. Then, there was my original audio book experience with The Secret Life of Bees. My commute was longer then, and I eagerly popped the disc into the car CD player. Couldn't make heads or tails of it. This went on for two days (four commutes) before I realized that my CD player was set to "random" tracks. I should have realized then and there that audio books were not for me!

    I do, however, love the Masie Dobbs series and have the two most recent waiting patiently for me.

  4. Thank you for the link to my entry!! I think the Maisie books are, for me at least, better read than listened to. There is so much in every sentence. I like to read it slowly. This is the book which led me to the late Elspeth Thompson's blog since she lived in a couple of those old railway cars.

  5. I'm glad you'll still stick with the series... I think the next one (I get the titles mixed up sometimes) is one of my favorites.

  6. Kathy - I have the next one in print, so I'll give it a try and see if I like it better that way.

    JoAnn - That's what I plan to do with the next one.

    Marcia - Oh, I still love audio books. They just have to be the right ones. I'm listening to The Girl Who Played With Fire and I'm lovin' it!! Edgar Sawtelle is another great book on audio. I think a lot depends on the reader, too. I remember you telling me about the "random" track incident. Too funny! :)

    Nan - You're more than welcome! See my note to Kathy. I'm going to read the next one. Oh! I remember looking at Thompson's blog. Those old railway cars are wonderful!

    Iliana - I'm definitely going to read the next one--right off my shelf in hardcover! Had it for ages.

  7. Oh bummer! I have thoroughly enjoyed all the books in this series. I do understand that there are so many other factors that play in the role of our enjoyment of a book. They could be the cause . . . or not. Ultimately it is what it is.

  8. Joy - I have high hopes for the next book, which I'll read instead of listening to. Maybe that's the ticket for this series.

  9. Out of curiosity, I just looked up all my ratings for this series and found that I didn't give them all 4s and above like I thought I probably did. Apparently my memory holds them in higher regard than reality. :) Anyway, what I found more interesting was the fact that I listened to all of them. I knew I did for some but didn't realize that it was all of them. I will continue to do so being that I have enjoyed my experiences, but hope the paper version will keep you a fan. Maisie Dobbs was my favorite then Among the Mad.


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