Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs Series #9)by Jacqueline Winspear
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In this latest entry in Jacqueline Winspear’s acclaimed, bestselling mystery series—“less whodunits than why-dunits, more P.D. James than Agatha Christie” (USA Today)—Maisie Dobbs takes on her most personal case yet, a twisting investigation into the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London’s highest circles of power. Perfect for fans of A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, or other Maisie Dobbs mysteries—and an ideal place for new readers to enter the series—Elegy for Eddie is an incomparable work of intrigue and ingenuity, full of intimate descriptions and beautifully painted scenes from between the World Wars, from one of the most highly acclaimed masters of mystery, Jacqueline Winspear.
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Elegy for Eddie
By Jacqueline Winspear
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2012 Jacqueline Winspear
All rights reserved.
London, April 1933
Maisie Dobbs pushed her way through the turnstile at Warren Street station, then stopped when she saw Jack Barker, the newspaper vendor, wave to her.
"Mornin', Miss Dobbs. Paper today?"
"Mr. Barker, how are you this morning? It's very close, isn't it?
Summer's here before spring!"
"At least it ain't as hot as it is over there in America— people dying from the heat, apparently. Mind you, at least they can have a drink now, can't they? Now that their Prohibition's ended. Never could make that out."
"You know, you're the only newspaper seller I know who reads every single one of his papers," said Maisie. She took a coin from her purse and exchanged it for the day's Times. "And there's been a lot to read this year already."
"Ever since all that business about the body line bowling over there in Australia, it seems it's been one thing after another— and not very nice things, either. Not that I hold with bad tactics in cricket, whether it's ours or theirs, but I'm glad England kept the Ashes all the same.
Mind you, not my sort of game, cricket."
"Jack, I have to confess, I still don't know what that was all about. I never could quite understand cricket."
Maisie's comment fell on deaf ears, as Jack Barker continued his litany of events that had come to pass over the past several months.
"Then there was all the noise about that Adolf Hitler, being made Chancellor in Germany. What do you reckon, Miss? Seems the bloke's got people either worried or turning cartwheels."
"I think I'm on the side of the worried, Mr. Barker. But let's just wait and see."
"You're right, Miss Dobbs. Wait and see. Might never happen, as the saying goes. And then we'll all be doin' cartwheels, eh? At least we're not like them poor souls in Japan. I know it's a long way off, the other side of the world, and can't say as I've ever met one of them in my life— don't expect I ever will— but they say it was one of the worst earthquakes ever. Hundreds killed. Can't imagine what that would be like, you know, the ground opening up under your feet."
"No, neither can I— we're lucky we live in a place where that sort of thing doesn't happen."
"Oh, I reckon it happens everywhere, Miss Dobbs. I'm old enough to know it doesn't take an earthquake for the ground to break apart and swallow you; you only have to look at all them who don't have a roof over their heads or a penny in their pocket to put some food on the table."
Maisie nodded. "Never a truer word said, Mr. Barker." She held up her newspaper by way of a wave and began to walk away. "I'll look for the good news first, I think."
Jack Barker called after her. "The good news is that they reckon this weather will keep up, right until the end of the month."
"Good," Maisie called back. "Makes a nice change."
"Might be a few thunderstorms, though," he added, laughing as he turned to another customer.
She was still smiling at the exchange when she turned into Fitzroy Square. Five men were standing at the foot of the steps leading up to the front door of the building that housed her office; one of them stepped forward as she approached.
"Miss Maisie Dobbs?"
"Yes, that's me, how can I— oh, my goodness, is that you? Mr. Riley? Jesse Riley?"
The man doffed his cap and smiled, nodding acknowledgment.
"And Archie Smith—" She looked at the men in turn. "Pete Turner, Seth Knight, Dick Samuels. What are you doing here?"
"We were waiting here for you, Miss Dobbs."
"Well, come in then. You could have waited for me inside, you know."
Maisie unlocked the door, wiped her feet on the mat, and dropped her umbrella into a tall earthenware jar left alongside the door. The weather might be fine this morning, but she always took an umbrella with her when she left the house, just in case.
"Follow me." She turned to speak again as she walked up the stairs.
"Was there no one in to see you?"
"Oh yes, Miss. Very nice young lady came to the door when we rang the bell. She said we could wait for you, but we didn't want to be a nuisance. Then the gentleman came down and he said the same, but we told him we'd rather stand outside until you arrived."
Maisie could not quite believe how the morning was unfolding.
Here they were, five men she hadn't seen since girlhood, waiting for her on the doorstep, all dressed in their Sunday best, in the flamboyant way of the cockney costermonger: a bright silk scarf at the neck, a collarless shirt, a weskit of wool and silk, and best corduroy or woolen trousers, all topped off with a jacket— secondhand, of course, probably even third or fourth hand. And each of them was wearing their best flat cap and had polished their boots to a shine.
Maisie opened the office door and bid her two employees good morning as she removed her hat and gloves. "Oh, and Billy, could you nip next door to the solicitor's and ask if they can spare us a chair or two," she added. "We'll need them for an hour at least, I would imagine." She turned to Sandra, who had stood up to usher the men into the room, which at once seemed so much smaller. "Oh, good, you've brought out the tea things."
"We told the gentlemen they could wait in here, Miss Dobbs."
"I know. It's all right." She turned to her visitors. "I seem to remember this lot can be particularly proud, can't you, Jesse?"
The man laughed. "Well. Miss D—" Maisie cut him off. "I was Maisie to you when I was a girl, and I'm Maisie now. There'll be no standing on ceremony. Ah, here we are, more chairs. Thank you, Billy." Maisie smiled at her assistant as he returned with several chairs stacked one on top of the other. "Come on, all of you, take a chair, sit yourselves down and tell me what this is all about— I can't ever remember having a delegation of costers greet me, and at this time in the morning."
Sandra had taken the tray with china and a teapot to the kitchenette along the corridor, and in the meantime, with the men seated around her, Maisie perched on the corner of her desk. She introduced each of the visitors to Billy and waited for Jesse to speak. He was about the same age as her father, but, unlike Frankie Dobbs, he still worked his patch of London streets, selling vegetables and fruit from a horse drawn cart. She knew the reason for the visit must be of some import, for these men would have lost valuable income in giving up a few hours' worth of work to see her.
"We've come about Eddie. Remember Eddie Pettit?"
Maisie nodded. "Of course I remember Eddie. I haven't seen him or Maudie for a few years, since I lived in Lambeth." She paused. "What's wrong, Jesse? What about Eddie?"
"He's dead, Miss— I mean, Maisie. He's gone."
Maisie felt the color drain from her face. "How? Was he ill?"
The men looked at each other, and Jesse was about to answer her question when he shook his head and pressed a handkerchief to his eyes. Archie Smith spoke up in his place.
"He weren't ill. He was killed at the paper factory, Bookhams." Smith folded his flat cap in half and ran his fingers along the fold. When he looked up, he could barely continue. "It weren't no accident, either, Maisie. We reckon it was deliberate. Someone wanted to get rid of him. No two ways about it." He looked at the other men, all of whom nodded their accord.
Maisie rubbed her arms and looked at her feet, which at once felt cold.
"But Eddie was so gentle. He was a little slow, we all knew that, but he was a dear soul— who on earth would want to see him gone?" She paused. "Is his mother still alive? I remember the influenza just after the war had left her weak in the chest."
"Maudie's heart is broken, Maisie. We've all been round to see her— everyone has. Jennie's looking after her, but Wilf passed on a few years ago now. The grooms down at the bottling factory, the drivers at the brewery, everyone who looked after a horse in any of the boroughs knew Eddie, and they've all put something in the collection to make sure we give him a good send off."
"Has he been laid to rest yet?"
"This Friday. St. Marks."
Maisie nodded. "Tell me what happened— Seth, you start." Seth Knight and Dick Samuels were the younger men of the group; Maisie guessed they were now in their late forties. She couldn't remember seeing them since they were young apprentices, and now they were men wearing the years on faces that were lined and gray, and with hands thick and calloused from toil.
Knight cleared his throat. "As you know, Eddie made a wage from the work he did with horses. There wasn't a hot or upset horse in the whole of London he couldn't settle, and that's no word of a lie. And he earned well at times, did Eddie. Reckon this was after you left the Smoke, just before the war, but talk about Eddie's gift had gone round all the factories and the breweries, and last year— honest truth, mind— he was called to the palace mews, to sort out one of His Majesty's Cleveland Bays." He looked at Jesse, who nodded for him to continue. "But horses don't have a funny turn every day of the week, so Eddie always made a bit extra by running errands at the paper factory. He'd go in during the morning, and the blokes would give him a few coppers to buy their ciggies, or a paper, or a bite of something to eat, and he'd write everything down and— "
"Wait a minute." Maisie interrupted Knight. "When did Eddie learn to write?"
"He'd been learning again for a while, Maisie. There was this woman who used to be a teacher at the school, she helped him. He'd found out where she was living— across the water— and he'd gone to her a while ago to ask if she could give him lessons. I'm blessed if I can remember her name. Apparently, he'd been doing quite well with a new customer, and it'd finally got into his noddle that if he learned to read and write he might be better off in the long run. He'd started to pay attention to money. I'd say it was all down to Maudie, pushing him a bit. In the past all he did was hand over the money to her, and she gave him pocket money to spend on himself, for his necessaries. She put the rest away for him— she always worried that he wouldn't be able to look after himself when she was gone, you see."
Maisie nodded. "I remember her being so attentive to him, always. I was in a shop once— I think it was Westons, the hardware store; I must have been sent on an errand by my mother. I was behind Eddie and his mum, and she made him ask for what they wanted, even though he didn't want to. She went stone silent until he'd asked for whatever it was, and then counted out the correct money. No one tried to hurry him along, because people knew Maud was teaching him to stand on his own two feet."
Seth Knight went on. "Well, Eddie seemed to have a little bit more about him lately, as if he'd been keeping us in the dark all along. He started asking questions about how to save his money so it was safe - of course, it was hard for him to understand, and he'd come and ask the same questions again, but all the same, he was trying. Anyway, it turns out this teacher— Miss Carpenter, that was her name— had always had a soft spot for him at school. When he turned up, that is. Trouble with Eddie, as you know, he'd always been happier around horses, so even as a young boy, when he got a message to go and sort out a horse, Maudie never stopped him. And to be honest, they needed the money, being as it was only the two of them; Wilf and Jennie were there to help out, but Maudie always said they needed everything they had to take care of themselves, especially with Wilf coming home gassed after the war. He might as well have died at Plugstreet Wood, the way the pain took it out of him, after he came home— and he was older than most of them; he wasn't a young man when he went over there." Seth took a deep breath and looked down at his hands, the palm of one rubbing across the knuckles of the other. "Anyway, going back to Eddie, he'd started to write down the odd note when the blokes at the factory gave him their instructions, and I for one think he could understand more than anyone gave him credit for. In any case, he always came back with what they'd asked him to get for them, and he never made a mistake."
There was silence for a few moments, and Maisie knew that everyone was likely thinking the same thing, that Eddie wasn't really gone, that he was as alive as the stories about him.
Excerpted from Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Winspear. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are saying about this
“Like any typical PI, Maisie is preternaturally acute and given to noticing tiny details, but it’s her compassion that allows her to illuminate some of the most pressing and staggeringly painful issues of her day, delivering unexpected answers and sense of peace to her clients-and her readers.”
“Reading Jacqueline Winspear’s Elegy for Eddie, the solid-gold ninth installment in a wonderful mystery series that shows no signs of flagging, you can’t help thinking that her nurse-turned psychologist-turned sleuth would make an ideal PBS heroine.”
“A heroine to cherish.”
“A detective series to savor.”
“Maisie Dobbs is a revelation.”
“A series that seems to get better with every entry.”
“For readers yearning for the calm and insightful intelligence of a main character like P.D. James’s Cordelia Gray, Maisie Dobbs is spot on.”
“A work of great humanity and a stellar entry in a superb series.”
“When people ask me to recommend an author, one name consistently comes to mind: Jacqueline Winspear...Winspear chronicles the uncharted, sometimes rocky path chosen by her protagonist and delivers results that are educational, unique, and wonderful.”
Meet the Author
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, and six other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.
- Ojai, California
- Date of Birth:
- April 30, 1955
- Place of Birth:
- Weald of Kent, England
- The University of London¿s Institute of Education
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The Maisie Dobbs series, now with nine entries, has taken her from World War I, where she served as a nurse, to the cusp of the Second World War. In this novel, there are three themes which can tend to confuse the reader until the author brings them together and makes sense out of what at first appear to be separate subplots. To start with, a delegation from Lambeth, scene of Maisie’s childhood, visits her to engage her services as an investigator to find out how a young man died in a paper factory. The other two plot lines, one more personal to her than the other, has Maisie questioning her own motives and standards as well as her relationship with her lover; and the last involving the stealth campaign of Winston Churchill to prepare Great Britain for the possible war with Nazi Germany. The book is equal to its predecessors in characterization and human interest. Obviously, it is more political in tone than its forerunners, given the time in which it takes place: the depression era and rise of Adolf Hitler. While Maisie’s introspections may be overdone, they certainly are in keeping with the character. Recommended.
Maisie Dobbs displays an incredibly annoying ability to not understand that othef people are allowed to have their own lives apart from her, without letting her know what they are doing at every minute. Her conviction that she is being "lied to" because some of her acquaintances have facets of their lives that they cannot (or do not want to) share with her is wearing quite thin. I realize her calling card says Psychologist and Inquiry agent, but I didn't realize her brief included inquiring into everyone else's lives, whether bidden or not.
Winspear is never heavy handed with the history she blends into her Maisie Dobbs series. Strong characters and steady plots bring the era alive with significant if sometimes relatively obscure historical, political and social recollections. "Elegy" with its troubling and morally ambiguous theme (unresolved for the protagonist) typifies the books in the series--well-written, thoughtful, credible and appealing characters, always a pleasurable and worthwhile read.
“Everything good has a dark side, even generosity. It can become overbearing, intimidating, even humiliating – and no one likes to think someone else is pulling the strings….” Elegy For Eddie is the ninth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private investigator, is asked to investigate the supposedly accidental death of a simple man with an uncanny gift for dealing with horses. Eddie Pettit was well-known and loved amongst the costermongers of Covent Garden, former associates of Maisie’s father, Frankie, and they are sceptical about the circumstances of Eddie’s death. As Billy Beale and Maisie try to discover a motive for his death, they learn that Eddie had certain special talents that were not apparent. Maisie discovers two other deaths that were ruled suicides but which strike her as suspicious, and Billy’s investigations land him in the hospital. His wife Doreen’s slowly-recovering mental health suffers a setback, and Maisie is taken to task for her need for control. Her relationship with James Compton takes a new direction, Maisie accepts counsel from an unexpected quarter and discovers a few surprising things about her father, her best friend’s husband and her lover. This instalment is set in April 1933, against a background of increasing Fascism in Germany that signals the possibility of another war. Winspear touches on the power of the press, the subtle use of propaganda, and the balance between freedom of information and the need for national security, as well as the position of women in society. Winspear develops her main characters more fully and her plot takes a few unexpected turns. Another excellent Winspear mystery.
The “Eddie” in the title is Eddie Pettit, born to an unmarried teenage mother in 1887 while she was mucking out a stable – a job that just barely keeps her out of the workhouse. All his life, Eddie had a special gift for working with horses. And now in 1933, Eddie dies in a freak accident at a printing plant. But Eddie’s friends, the fruit sellers in Covent Garden, don’t believe his death was an accident and come to Maisie Dobbs, daughter of their friend and former costermonger Frankie Dobbs, to investigate his death. Maisie takes on the job, only too glad to be of help to her father’s pals, whom she’s known since she was a little girl. And when her assistant, Billy Beale, winds up in the hospital after a beating sustained while asking questions about the case, she’s pretty certain that her clients’ suspicions about Eddie’s death are on target. Elegy for Eddie is a pivotal book in this award-winning series, a turning point for its protagonist. Maisie is still becoming accustomed to newfound wealth – which came to her when her mentor and friend Maurice died and left her most of his considerable estate. Maisie is always willing to use her money to help others, but in Elegy for Eddie, she’s confronted with the accusation, from a very credible source, that she may be using gifts to control other people’s lives. Maisie also realizes that she must decide what her relationship is to be with her lover, James, who wants a traditional marriage, meaning Maisie gives up her work. The Maisie Dobbs books are wonderful … it’s one series I collect in hardcover. I just want to own them. Elegy for Eddie is number nine, and it’s just about time for me to go back to #1 and read some of the early ones again. It’s that kind of series.
Several of Maisie's old acquaintances come to her office to ask for her help. They believe that their friend Eddie was murdered. Maisie sets out to find any clues surrounding death that might lead to this conclusion. I haven't read any Maisie Dobbs books before this one. But I do enjoy a good who-done-it or mystery novel. This book was okay, but it certainly wasn't great. The story seemed to meander slowly along without anything happening for long periods of time. Her indecision about her boyfriend and her previous life were irritating and didn't seem to fit with the story at all. I won't give any spoilers, but I wasn't thrilled with the conclusions either. They didn't seem to wrap up like a normal who-done-it should. This might be a typical Maisie Dobbs novel, I don't know. But it left me wishing I'd read a different book and not wasted my time. It wasn't awful, but with so many great books out there it's hard to waste your time on one that is only okay. I received this book free of charge from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Potential spoiler although I'll try not to say too much. I found the book to be a little slow, and I was disappointed as a key crime against Billy received no closure; key elements were not researched. There wasn't a cut and dried ending. I like the series, but this book seemed to focus too much on the politics and Maisie's ... self-introspection, which adds to the stories and Maisie's growth, but it was just too much this time. I suppose Maisie's past and current status, neither fish nor fowl, makes it difficult to commit to anything other than her business which she can control. It would be a difficult world to navigate, gender, class, academics, finances, etc. as she doesn't fit in her "place." She is called to task for her control issues, and I enjoyed those dialogues as the character is just a little bit too controlling and "mother knows best." I'm not sure why the series even involves a male companion as Maisie just sort flits along from man to man albeit slowly; I feel like I'm observing Goldilocks although she made a decision by third time. All in all, for my likes, it wasn't the best in the series. Like Anne Perry's current writings, it seems as though the writer is taking a breather and just coasting.
I have read all of the books in this series and this one was good. I could not give it a higher rating because I felt that it moved very slow.
I have been a fan of the Massie Dobbs series since the very first book. Ms. Winspears latest began with a great beginner. However, I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. Still a fan though and hoping that Massie stays with her friend, James. Actually, Ms. Dobbs is ahead of her time by being a private female investigator and having a love life. This makes the series very interesting. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
I am totally hooked on Maisie Dobbs and have read all of the books in record time. Her personal life is intertwined with the cases that she solves. The time during World War I and the 1920's and 1930's when England was in turmoil, is artfully recreated.
maisie dobbs continues to be clever and inquisitive, but not so bright that she can't learn life lessons.
Acquaintances from Maisie's earlier days come to Maisie with news that Eddie, a kind man known both for his mental deficiencies and his gift with horses, has died in a seemingly freak accident. Uncomfortable with the circumstances they come to Maisie for her help. Maisie begins to investigate and she discovers that more men have died over this matter. Maisie soon realizes that Eddie had stumbled into a problem that might be over even Maisie's head. Maisie also struggles with her own changed circumstances and reflects on her intrusions in the lives of others. She questions how she still give back to her friends and loved ones. Not sure if she understands her own wants, her romance adds questions to the mix. And the rest of the world continues in their struggle to recover from the Great War. Hints of unrest in Germany and questions about Hitler's intentions serve as a backdrop to everyday problems. This is my third Maisie Dobbs novel and I've successfully skipped around to read the titles that interest me with little to no confusion. I enjoyed this installment. I loved getting to know a character through the stories and conversations of the other characters. I found myself attached to Eddie even though he was gone at the book's start. I enjoyed seeing the beginning of some very troubling events and am curious to see Maisie's role when things really start to happen. Reoccurring characters were present and consistent and there was even some growth here are there. But this one is mostly focused on Maisie and her life changes and indecision. Less focus is on the secondary characters. I like this particular series because it involves old-fashioned detective work. It reminds me of my Nancy Drew days. Set before WWII (at this point), technology is mostly absent. I think it is better at integrating the historical backdrop than any other book I've read. The lives and conversations are true to the time and are peppered with events and information that the reader knows will lead to bigger events, and ultimately, WWII. It isn't in your face so it seems especially real. These books are well-researched but it doesn't feel like I am reading research. This series is consistent and the mysteries are very involved but I find that they would be one of my favorites if I liked Maisie more. Maisie is perfectly imperfect. Even when she does something wrong, it's still right. She has to have the most unromantic romances ever. Her way of reflecting on her feelings as they relate to romance is so technical and dry. Even though she has problems and fears they just don't help connect me to her. Overall, another unpredictable mystery with a well-developed historical backdrop.
I have only recently found Jacqueline Winspear's wonderful Maisie Dobbs series, and I have now devoured all of them. Highly recommended.