Friday, July 29, 2011

book review: Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

The backstory: Among the Mad is the sixth Maisie Dobbs mystery. Here are links to my reviews of the first five books: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, and An Incomplete Revenge.

The basics: Winspear raises the stakes in Among the Mad; it's Maisie Dobbs meets Criminal Minds. The reader sees both the mind of a terrorist intent on killing many people while Maisie works closely with Scotland Yard to stop him.

My thoughts: After not loving the last Maisie Dobbs novel, I was thrilled to see Winpsear deliver a true page-turning thriller with a fascinating, timely case. One of the best gifts of historical fiction is to remind the modern reader how similar some problems are through the years. In Among the Mad, Maisie and the detectives of Scotland Yard scramble to discover the identity of the person threatening London with chemical warfare that has the potential to decimate an entire city. It was a sobering reminder that domestic terrorism is nothing new and a powerful example of the lasting impact of war, a major theme in this series.

As a result of a rather genius plot device, Maisie works closely (and officially) with Scotland Yard on the case. This unlikely partnership provided fascinating insight into gender roles, politics and government. I'm also hopeful it may allow other opportunities for Maisie to work in an official capacity.

Favorite passage: “Forgetting has never been of concern to me, Inspector. It’s the remembering that gives me pause."

The verdict: Among the Mad was a riveting, thought-provoking mystery and reminded me why I adore not only the character of Maisie but her colleagues, friends and family. As much a thriller as a historical mystery, Among the Mad amped up the action, and I'm curious to see where Winspear takes this series next.

Rating: 4.25 stars (out of 5)
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: February 17, 2009 (it's in paperback now)
Source: I bought the bundle (of An Incomplete Revenge & Among the Mad) for my Kindle

Thoughts on the series: Although it's difficult to judge how this novel would fare if you haven't read the rest of the series, I'm inclined to say it would still be enjoyable. If you've been waiting to try Maisie but don't want to start at the beginning, go ahead a dive into Among the Mad. Buy it from Amazon in paperback, for the Kindle or from an independent bookstore.

As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. Uh, averting eyes! Skim down to see rating! Good number, yah! Must read next Maisie book! Everyone loves them, as do I! Why haven't I read the next one? I'm only at number 3. Arg! Must push Maisie up the reading queue!
    (I'll eventually come back and 'read' your review, instead of just being pissed at myself for not reading Maisie more promptly!)

  2. This is one of those series that I have been on the fence about for awhile. I hope to get to it eventually!

  3. I have been living vicariously through everyone's posts on the continuing books in this series, as I have only read the first one, and was not convinced that I would go further with them. I really liked the backstory on Maisie, but wasn't so crazy about the mystery aspects of it. I might have to skip over a few and grab this one. It sounds like it's more my speed. Thanks for a great review!

  4. Ratings with quarter stars?! I like it. But perhaps decimal usage would allow even more precision! I think I could do a lot with the 3.8 to 4.6 range whereas so many books in my reading experience seem to sit at a boring old 4. ::grin::

  5. I've got this one in my review queue although I never finished the first book (library book, had to return, never got around to getting it again). Glad to see the series picked up for you again -- I might plunge in with this win and work backwards...


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