This is the eleventh in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. It stands alone nicely, for it is the first I have read and I had no trouble following the plot. Maisie is an investigator with unique skills and friends. As Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts Britain's declaration of war with Germany, a Secret Service agen, Dr. Francesca Thomas, approaches Maisie with an urgent mission. Find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy during the Great War. Soon after the investigation begins, another former Belgian refugee is murdered, and it is obvious the murders are related. As the investigation continues, London prepares for war.
This is a work of historical fiction and is meticulously researched. As an American born after World War II, at a remove from the events, I found it both heartbreaking and fascinating. It would be hard enough to have your husband serving in harm's way, but to send your children away? Yes, for their safety, yet...? Barrage balloons, blackout curtains, rationing, gas masks, bomb shelters... the rending of families. How does one prepare for and endure this sort of hardship? And there are countries where this sort of hardship is current. May I never forget.