Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs, Book #12)
by Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 29th 2016
Ebook ARC Edition; 304 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher / TLC Book Tours
4 / 5 Stars
It’s early 1938, and
Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she
walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted
by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The
German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison,
but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife
is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the
Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the
daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.
British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel
plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s
death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.
into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected
dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the
work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .
Journey to Munich is the twelfth book in the Maisie Dobbs series, and Maisie continued to develop as an interesting and complex character. Just when I think I had her figured out and thought I knew what she was going to do next, she surprised me and did something entirely different. Having no permanent home in London, and continuing to deal with the tragedies that befell her in Canada, she accepts a job that will take her into the heart of Munich in 1938, just before the Anschluss. Having a history background, and teaching WWII, this is the part of the book that I found the most interesting.
First of all, I really enjoyed the descriptions of Munich in March 1938; Maisie's discomfort at having to salute, her avoidance of the statues in the park, the different types of soldiers she saw, the harassment by the soldiers, her visit to Dachau, her visits to Nazi headquarters (including her brief but memorable meeting with Hitler himself), the tension in the city, and the descriptions of the people themselves. I really felt the author captured the flavour of the city during this time period quite well and the reader got a really good feel for the underlying tension and fear that existed. People were leery of each other, and tended to avoid questions, often walking with their heads down. As often as I've tried to picture it, I still can not imagine what it would have been like to live like this, knowing your neighbours have been disappearing, hearing about Dachau, and seeing some of the atrocities being committed. Especially memorable for me was Maisie's meeting with the two little girls, one Christian, one Jewish, who had to sneak away in order to play together. Reading the description about them was heartbreaking, and I could just feel Maisie's emotions as she watched them walk away hand in hand, knowing she would never see that moment again, foreshadowing the future, perhaps Kristallnacht, in November 1938.
The actual plot, while I enjoyed it quite a bit, did make me raise my eyebrows a couple of times however. While it was nice to see Maisie go undercover again and use some of the skills she had learned, there were some plot points that did stretch the imagination quite a bit. I also would have thought that being a British citizen, she would have been followed a bit more than she was. I did like the fact that she was more assertive than her usual self, but this has been building for quite a while; with all of the personal tragedies she has suffered, and some of the things she has done, she can't help but change from the person she was. I like her more now than I did before. I'm still not convinced that I see her as a spy, but anything can happen and we are entering some really interesting times for Daisy and her friends. Maisie couldn't tell her friend everything about Munich though, as her friend is the mother of sons and she didn't have the heart to tell her that war is on the horizon. That broke my heart.
Journey to Munich was more about the horrors of living in Hitler's Germany and about building one's life after living through personal tragedy than the actual spying and espionage. While I really enjoyed seeing Munich through Maisie's eyes, I did feel that spending so much time in Maisie's head as she coped with her tragedies was kind of limiting to the plot and to Maisie herself. Because the mystery was a bit limited in scope and imagination, I just couldn't give this a five-star rating, but the atmosphere was layered and quite thick with intrigue; I just wish it was used more in the plot. I am looking forward to some interesting things happening as Maisie and her friends head into WWII.