Cover Image: A Sunlit Weapon

A Sunlit Weapon

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Member Reviews

This is book 17 in the Maisie Dobbs series and I have enjoyed them all.  I seriously recommend that you read some of the previous books. You'll enjoy this one with some background.  The series started before WWI in book 1 and we are now nearing the end of WWII.  All the main characters are back and of course it's being war there is plenty of spying and intrigue.  Maisie has become a major part of the War effort in England.  Ms. Winspear researches and presents a true life picture of the various families in the series.  This book also touches on racial discrimination.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Another Maisie Dobbs mystery will be a very satisfying mystery. Winspear has taken this story beyond mystery is also a look at prejudice in England during World War II. When Jo Hardy, a pilot for Britain’s Air Transport, is shot at from a barn. When she and a friend return to the barn, they find a Black American soldier tied up and near death. Maisie is asked to investigate, but her investigation runs afoul of her American husband’s national security as he tries to create a plan for Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit.. As all this is going on Maisie’s adopted daughter is being bullied at school because her skin color is so dark. Its clear, too, that the American segregation of soldiers is so different than the way the British deal with their soldiers. As usual, Winspear can meld a variety of storyline successfully. Against Maisie, the bad guys have no chance.
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As always, the Maisie Dobbs series is a winner. As I was reading, I had the thought about just how much I love these books. Once I pick them up, I can't put them down until I've finished!
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I appreciate the thought and research Jacqueline Winspear puts into her books. The knowledge and history that she shares in her stories comes across so easily you don't even realize you're learning something. I don't always read the author notes at the end of books, but I always read her notes and they inspire me to do my own research.
Maisie is asked to look into a fighter plan crash near the scene of another incident where a female ferry-pilot was shot at. The pilot decides to investigate the area and discovered an American serviceman tied up, The deeper Maisie looks into the first incident, she sees the 2 are related and leads to a plot by German spies to assassinate Mrs. Roosevelt. Themes of racism in the American Armed Forces are explored.
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I loved the focus on the contribution of aviatrix to the British war effort in WWII. While A Sunlit Weapon juggles several story lines, including a focus on bullying at the elementary school level, it's main mystery involves the downing of a plane by a countryman. Winspear does a beautiful job of staying true to her main and secondary characters' strengths and weaknesses while continuing to develop them in fascinating ways.
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It's hard to believe I've been reading Maisie Dobbs novels for almost twenty years, but each new installment is a fantastic layered mystery revolving around war and how it affects people's minds and actions.
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A Sunlit Weapon is the 17th entry in Jacqueline Winspear's long running and much loved Maisie Dobbs series. Picking up the latest in this series feels like settling in with an old friend to catch up.

I appreciate that Winspear keeps the narrative moving forward. We’ve been with  Maisie through her younger years through to the current time period - 1942 WWII. She's gone from a servant on an estate to now being a licensed psychologist and private investigator with her own office.

Winspear takes historical events and weaves them together with a mystery in each book. I really enjoy the historical bits. A Sunlit Weapon uses the air ferry women as a basis for one of Maisie's cases.

While the plotting and mysteries are always excellent, it is the characters that have me coming back for each new book. Maisie is a great lead - calm, thoughtful, somewhat impulsive and curious. Winspear has kept the personal lives of all the characters moving forward as well. I've become quite invested in their lives and what might be next for them all. Maisie's assistant Billy Beale is a perennial favorite supporting character. He and Maisie work well together. All of the characters have suffered some loss over the years - which mimics life. But, they continually put one foot in front of the other and move forward - can do, keep calm and soldier on. 

The latest case is a complicated one and as things progress, two of Macy’s cases seem to have something in common. I appreciate the way the cases are solved with leg work, conversations and slowly piecing together clues and observations. And with Maisie there's also that extra little bit intuition. 

The settings have always been a character in these books as well - each described so well that I can picture them. (I'd love to be in the car with Maisie, motoring down a country road.

Excellent plotting, wonderful characters and prose add up to another satisfying tale. But I knew it would be! If you love historical fiction and you haven't read Jacqueline Winspear you're missing out on an excellent series.
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I have been reading this series since it began. I love Maisie and it is interesting to see how she matures and her life progresses. A solid installment.
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Maisie Dobbs has seen her share of interesting stories.  This one does not disappoint.  When a ferry pilot is shot at, while delivering an aircraft to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, and another ferry pilot crashes in the same area, two days later, Jo Hardy, pilot of the former craft, goes to investigate.  She finds an American soldier, bound and gagged in an unused barn, and she finds out he is wanted in connection with another missing American soldier.  It becomes too much, and upon the suggestion of another ferry pilot, she seeks out Maisie Dobbs, who tries to unravel this tale, while several others come into play as well.  

While the story seems to limp through the sections devoted to bring new readers of the series up to speed, Maisie channels Maurice Blanche in trying to see connections she can't with the naked eye.  As the investigation progresses, Maisie's new husband Mark, a political attache at the American Embassy, discovers her case has to do with an impending visit of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to Britain. 

Meanwhile, in Chelstone, neither Maisie's daughter Anna nor Billy's daughter Margaret Rose are happy.  In fact, they've gone from happy children, excited to learn to both dreading going to school.  Maisie begins to investigate and is shocked by what she finds. 

As I said, as a reader of all the Maisie Dobbs books, I found the recollections to Maisie's previous life a bit tedious.  Ms. Winspear didn't dwell on what happened to Priscilla, nor Maisie on a fateful day early in the war, but going over Billy and Doreen's tragedy and reflecting back on Maurice and his practices and teachings seemed like a bit of overkill.  I still look forward to Maisei's next adventure!    .
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This was an outstanding historical fiction mystery!  It’s the 17th book in the Maisie Dobbs series, but it can be read as a standalone. I predict that you want to read them all once you finish this one!

This book is set during WWII in Britain, and focuses on the women who flew planes between bases etc.  They were in the the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary), and their jobs were very dangerous because the planes had not been fitted with weapons yet.   Women couldn’t be fighter pilots but the RAF couldn’t have won without them. 

The writing is excellent, and the story shows a little of what domestic life was like, with rationing and families living with fear for their loved ones. The mystery is really interesting, especially considering the involvement of American soldiers in England during wartime. 
All in all, an outstanding read, 5 stars.

“In the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series, a series of possible attacks on British pilots leads Jacqueline Winspear's beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs into a mystery involving First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

October 1942. Jo Hardy, a 22-year-old ferry pilot, is delivering a Supermarine Spitfire--the fastest fighter aircraft in the world--to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, when she realizes someone is shooting at her aircraft from the ground. Returning to the location on foot, she finds an American serviceman in a barn, bound and gagged. She rescues the man, who is handed over to the American military police; it quickly emerges that he is considered a suspect in the disappearance of a fellow soldier who is missing.”

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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A SUNLIT WEAPON by Jacqueline Winspear is the latest in a well-loved and award-winning series set in Europe and spanning events from the WWI through WWII. The main character, Maisie Dobbs, served as a nurse in the first war and now is a private investigator with ties to Scotland Yard and the American Embassy in London. Be creating a case involving the Air Transport Authority (the ATA was a group of private pilots, including many women, who ferried planes from base to base) and also a "colored" serviceman, Winspear is able to highlight 1940s inequality based on gender and race. She clearly respects the dangerous work that the aviatrices accomplished in support of the war effort, weaving in details about the added danger and unequal pay. In addition, she enlightens readers about the segregation of American troops and their unequal treatment (e.g., white soldiers were encouraged build relationships by having meals with local British families, but this opportunity was not available to Black servicemen). In that sense, A SUNLIT WEAPON is an informative work of historical fiction. The mystery itself is complicated, but less engaging with even Maisie remarking, "I think it's harder getting to the bottom of crimes committed by complete incompetents." Still, this addition to the series helps readers to see more of Maisie as a mother and new wife, balancing her career and personal commitments. The story, in no way as horrific as current news coverage, also reinforces the ability of everyday citizens to have an impact and to protect and defend their country. In the author's note Winspear reminds us that "it is the young, both men and women, who go to war. Nothing has changed in that regard, and so much is expected of them." A SUNLIT WEAPON received a starred review from Kirkus ("superb combination of mystery, thriller, and psychological study with an emphasis on prejudice and hatred").
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Maisie Dobbs is happily married to her second husband, Mark Scott. The Scotts are the proud parents of Maisie's seven-year-old daughter, Anna, whom Dobbs adopted after the little girl was orphaned.  "A Sunlit Weapon," by Jacqueline Winspear, is the seventeenth book in this popular series.  It is 1942, and Maisie, an investigator and psychologist, is busy running her private enquiry firm and spending quality time with family and friends. In this work of historical fiction, Winspear provides fascinating details about the courageous women of England's Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), who ferried "fighters, bombers, and training aircraft from one air station to another."

One of the ATA pilots, Josephine (Jo) Hardy, is flying a Spitfire low to the ground when she spots a man in a field pointing his firearm at her. Later, when she returns to the spot to investigate, she hears whimpering and finds a terrified African American soldier who had been tied up and gagged. When Jo's colleague is murdered by an unidentified perpetrator, she hires Maisie to find the killer.  During her investigation, Dobbs interviews numerous witnesses, uses her impressive powers of deduction, pays close heed to her "gut feelings," and, and along with her network of contacts, tracks down a band of ruthless villains.

Winspear is a brilliant stylist who has earned well-deserved praise for her impressive character-development, stunning descriptive writing, and insight into human behavior.  In "A Sunlit Weapon," she focuses on why embittered people poison the minds of the children whom they are supposed to nurture. In addition, she explores the evils of racism, demonstrates the horrors of war, and sheds light on the often-unheralded contributions made by women in times of national crisis. This suspenseful, intriguing, and fast-paced mystery has warmth, humor, and a touch of romance. As always, Jacqueline Winspear expresses deep empathy for those who experience physical and emotional trauma.  She suggests that, with enough love and support, many of these people can begin the process of healing.
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Aviatrices, Investigators and VIP’s!

England 1942. Amongst the many challenges she faces, investigator Maisie Dobbs comes face to face with some American problems—Racism, US Army regulations, a dead American serviceman, and assassins. On the more personal front her daughter Anna is having problems at school, and Billy’s family have fresh heartache.  Maisie and her husband Mark Scott have to thread a careful path between their respective jobs. Especially as it seems Maisie’s investigative work will cross over into Mark’s work with the American Embassy.
Three spitfires have mysteriously crashed near a landing field in Biggin Hill, Kent.
One being flown by the fiancé of aviatrix Jo Harvey, who is with the Air Transport Auxiliary who ferry different planes to where they’re needed. Jo feels that something’s not quite right about these accidents and she employs Maisie to investigate.
Along with this a colored soldier has been accused of killing a white soldier, although mysteriously there’s no body. Alongside this is a security nightmare trip to England by a highly placed American, and the unexplained death of one of the aviatrix. 
International and personal problems challenge Maisie’s thought structures. She finds herself returning to some of the basics inculcated from Maurice.
Although engaging I found that this phase of Maisie’s life becoming just too complicated. On the other hand, when has that not been the case?

A Harper ARC via NetGalley 
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an e ARC of this book.
Maisie Dobbs is delightful. An advocate for women, she offers a prime example of what women can do. A leader in helping women to break free during WWII she their services are required in the absence of men who are off to the war. Interesting, historical, loveable. Great read.
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3.5 stars

The latest in the long-running Maisie Dobbs series. This time out Maisie is wrestling with work-life balance, torn between her London investigate cases and her daughter and new husband in the countryside. Her happy young adopted daughter is suddenly fearful and clingy and Maisie is looking to find out why. 

She is hired by a young female ATA transport pilot to look into some mysterious goings on. The pilot's fiance was killed months earlier in a plane crash with no obvious explanation. Then someone took a shot at her plane in the same area -- and then a fellow pilot dies in another unexplained crash in the same area. When the young pilot goes to investigate on her own, she finds a young Black American soldier bound and gagged in a barn with a story about a fellow soldier who disappeared.

The well-researched peripheral details are interesting as always. I did not realize that American military police enforced segregation in Britain on military installations. And the details of the ATA pilots were fascinating -- they were truly unsung heroines.  Threaded through the story is the tour in England by Eleanor Roosevelt with supporting historical facts.

I don't begrudge Maisie any happiness after all she's been through, but in my opinion the addition of a husband has not strengthened this series. There are a lot of fairly unbelievable coincidences in this one. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Maisie is one of my favorite fictional characters!  I have loved getting to know her over the years!  There was a lot going on in this book with multiple subplots but I feel like if you love Maisie books this will continue on in great form!  I didn't know much about Mrs. Roosevelt's visit to England so it was intriguing to read about that subject even from a "fictional" scope.  

Thank you netgalley and publishers for an arc of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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My bookclub introduced me to Maisie Dobbs over 14 years ago.  Now with the 17th installment the series gets better and better.  It is 1942 and a female ferry pilot hires Maisie to investigate after rescuing a black American serviceman she finds tied up in a barn.  Because of his race he is a suspect for the disappearance of a fellow soldier who is missing.  Maisie uses her American husband’s connections with the US Embassy and her connections to Scotland Yard as the investigation takes on larger implications.  

This adventure had me learning about programs that allowed American soldiers to help harvest to increase favorable relations.  I learned more about woman aviators and their work during the war effort (a passion of the author).  And sadly some of the realities of segregation by the US military.  Other subplots about adopted daughter Anna dealing with a bully at her school and a potential attack on First Lady Elenor Roosevelt are also interwoven.  The storylines are entertaining and engaging.  Masie gets to showcase her talents of interviewing, observation and allowing the universe to lead her to clues.  It also includes old and new friends.  I especially love her recognizing the contributions of her long time employee Billy.  I usually give this series 3s and 4s but this adventure gets a solid five for bringing all of is storylines together in a logical and complete way.  Thank you to NetGalley and Harper for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A lot going on in this latest Maisie book. Too many subplots overshadow the main story. I do like stories of courageous women during wartime. I do appreciate the research and the author's note. An okay book.
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Another wonderful Maisie Dobbs book!  

We waited an extra year for this latest installment, and it did not disappoint!  Ms. Winspear has once again woven together many strands to create a mystery with an intriguing historical context, character development of old friends and new additions, and psychological insights to keep it interesting.  I was hooked from the very beginning, and enjoyed every moment back in the world of Maisie Dobbs.  

It could stand on its own, but much better to "begin at the beginning" and enjoy all of the previous books in the series.  Highly recommended!
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It is a marvel to see Jacqueline Winspear again weave a complex and nuanced mystery from the large and small instabilities of everyday life in wartime England, which extends to the global forces that threaten the world.  In A Sunlit Weapon, the 17th book in the Maisie Dobbs series, it is 1942. The actions that have defined war have become now commonplace: nightly curfews, gas masks, blackout curtains, incessant air attacks, growth of crime and the destruction and devastation of a firebombed London.  America has recently entered the war and Maisie has a new American husband, Mark Scott, who is very high up the diplomatic chain and privy to as much highly classified confidential information as Maisie is in her work with Scotland Yard and the British Secret Service.  And though they are scrupulous about keeping their personal and professional lives separate, they begin to overlap when Maisie takes on a new case.

This time she is approached by Jo Hardy, a female Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, who has been shot at while ferrying a Spitfire to an air base. When Jo returns to the remote area to investigate she finds a battered black American soldier, Matthias Crittenden, who is traumatized, gagged and bound, and confused.  His white fellow soldier and friend is missing.  Jo rescues him, but as Private Matthias knows, his future is anything but safe, with the pervasive systematic discrimination in the American military force, and he is accused of faking his kidnapping and causing the disappearance and possible death of Private Charlie Stone. The clock is ticking for Maisie to find out the fate of the missing soldier and clear Matthias of the possible murder charges before he is extradited to the US. 

As Maisie begins her investigation, many of the British people express shock at the narrow mindedness and injustices shown to American black servicemen who are rooted out and disciplined by American MPs if they are even seen in the company of white soldiers or in white establishments.  Yet at the same time, little Anna, Maisie’s adopted daughter, is being bullied by her classmates for having a darker shade of skin, while the school authorities turn a blind eye to the harassment.  One of Winspear’s strengths as an author is showing the ironies of context and culture when confronting thorny issues, and this book is rife with them. Maisie’s somatic psychological approach, breathing and sensing, honed by her deceased mentor, Maurice Blanche, faces a wall when it comes up against the American military legal system and even to some extent, with her spouse.  And then there is the upcoming visit of the American president’s wife, who may not be safe on British soil. Winspear excels at the small knowing details that reframe history for us, including a moving glimpse of Eleanor Roosevelt using her position as first lady as activist for workers, women’s and children’s rights, and for throwing off rules of propriety to meet with ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and then using her discoveries as a blueprint for improving the welfare of others.  As the multiple plots begin to merge, Maisie and Mark find they have both shared and sometimes conflicting agendas, which also impacts their marriage.

One of the most interesting developments in this book is the acclimation of this newlywed power couple to each other.  Maisie is not used to having restrictions on the manner in which she follows her intuitions on a case even (and often especially) if it leads her into dangerous situations.  And Mark, to a degree, reflects the cultural norms on gender-based views of women during this time, especially concerning the actions of his wife. I hope Winspear continues to explore this possible divide and the accommodations that come from it, for it makes for fascinating reading.  As the subplots coalesce, there are a number of revelations as well as truly chilling, edge of your seat moments, but for me, the strength and pull of all the Maisie Dobbs books is in the courage, honesty, and compassion she brings to her psychological inquiries and in doing so often uncovers hidden truths about herself.  Warning: the side effects of repeated exposure to Maisie Dobbs books can cause a highly addictive response, while also being very restorative to one’s mental well-being.  Read this for an oddly comforting perspective during another time when people were worried about the state of the world.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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