Jacqueline Winspear’s ‘In This Grave Hour’ Examines the Effects of War on the Human Psyche [REVIEW]

Britain declares war

The day Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces that Britain is once again at war, Maisie Dobbs is given a cold case to solve in Jacqueline Winspear’s IN THIS GRAVE HOUR. (Photo courtesy Wayne State University)

The last thing anyone wanted after the Great War was to be thrust into another melee. Families had already sacrificed so much, and nations were still recovering from the “last war.” In fact, psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs’ latest case has her investigating killings that occurred during that previous conflict. Will she be able to find the murderer? And what will she do when someone new arrives on her doorstep in need of assistance? Find out in Jacqueline Winspear’s In This Grave Hour. 

Jacqueline Winspear's IN THIS GRAVE HOUR


This story opens on Sunday, September 3, 1939, the very day that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain takes to the airwaves and announces that England is going to war with Germany.

Maisie is at her friend’s home to listen to the news over the wireless when a senior Secret Service agent breaks into flat to await her return, only to commission her with finding the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy 23 years earlier during World War I.

As if a cold case more than two decades old isn’t enough to strain even the most tenacious investigator’s powers of deduction, the new declaration of war and all that it means only adds to the tension. London is suddenly awash with sirens, sandbags, barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the imminent threat of invasion. But then a second Belgian refugee is found murdered.

Meanwhile, “Operation Pied Piper” evacuates all the children of London to the country, and soon Maisie has a little girl billeted at her Kent home. But the child can’t, or won’t, speak and no one knows who she belongs to. They only know that her name is Anna, and suddenly it seems that Maisie has two mysteries to solve.

In This Grave Hour is a brilliantly told, riveting story that transports us back in time to World War II England. Winspear does a phenomenal job capturing the essence of the era, conjuring all the heartache and fear that comes with the declaration of war. She deftly paints a portrait of a world gone mad, where everything is suddenly unfamiliar and the ominous threat of violence keeps everyone’s nerves on edge.

Her heroine too is finely drawn, affectionately so, and it is clear to see that Winspear feels obligated to get this character right. Maisie Dobbs is a woman ahead of her time. Not only is she cunningly clever, but she is shrewd, driven and brave. Simultaneously, however, she is also kind, funny, and most of all, genuine. This is a character that Audrey Hepburn could have easily brought to life on the silver screen, and one which readers will want to visit time and again.

Tightly plotted and populated with delicious characters, Jacqueline Winspear’s In This Grave Hour is a mystery that will definitely keep readers guessing, but it is also much more than that. It is an examination of the effects of war on the human psyche, a rich tapestry that conveys a tale we all know, but which includes a thread of humanity and a depth that is particularly prescient in our own perilous times. This is a thinking person’s book, one that reminds us that sometimes the strongest among us are those in a dress.


Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Journey to MunichA Dangerous PlaceLeaving Everything Most LovedElegy for EddieA Lesson in Secrets, and The Mapping of Love and Death, as well as six other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels.

Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times and national bestseller, and a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

She has won numerous awards, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the Maisie Dobbs series, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was named a New York Times Notable Book.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Winspear now lives in California. Visit her home on the Web at JacquelineWinspear.com and like her on Facebook.

By Jacqueline Winspear
352 pgs. Harper. $27.99

You may purchase this book at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollins, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

In This Grave Hour is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Jacqueline Winspear’s ‘In This Grave Hour’ Examines the Effects of War on the Human Psyche [REVIEW]

  1. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    If you like World War II period dramas, mysteries, and strong female characters, you’re going to love psychologist/investigator Maisie Dobbs. She’s smart, sassy, and one tough cookie. But this time out, she’s left solving a cold case more than two decades old, just as war is declared in Britain. Jacqueline Winspear’s IN THIS GRAVE HOUR is one riveting read!

  2. trish says:

    One reason I’ve been meaning to start this series is because Maisie Dobbs sounds like such a fun character — the kind of character that you wish would jump off the page and hang out with you for a bit!

    Thank you for being on the tour!

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