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"God, he's just a little off balance," thought Maisie Dobbs about Officer Tucker while he was questioning her. For Maisie is investigating the death of an artist who supposedly accidentally fell from a scaffold while he was preparing to mount his mysterious triptych (3-piece art work) in a museum in England. Off balance is right, and Georgina Bassington-Hope, a famous journalist in her own right, is convinced that her artist brother, Nicholas, was pushed off the scaffold to his death. Hired by Georgina, Maisie sets of to slowly, methodically investigate the Bassington-Hope family, friends and acquaintances. Her method is fascinating reading as she quietly intuits each vital step in this formidable process, punctuated by significant opposition from the police and some smugglers.
The reader through Ms. Winspear's carefully detailed presentation meets these characters and gets to share in the intimate knowledge about their finer and gauche personality aspects. A psychologist as well as Investigator, she's got the talent with which one is born and that which can't be taught! Astute and compassionately honest she is!
Depression England and the awful World War that preceded it are frankly and carefully presented, leaving no doubt how these events created suffering and incomparable struggle for all who are surviving both. Indeed these characters somehow manage to thrive out of some deeper fine qualities that slowly emerge as Daisie continues her exploration into the seamier side of men and women of both the upper and lower class British citizens.
This is a fine, fine novel that will thrill the true mystery lover who really doesn't want to figure out the puzzle on page 1 or 100 but wants to relish the truly intriguing art divided into successive canvases of a classic, wonderful mystery!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on July 25, 2007