“The Sun Must Be Over the Yardarm…”


Right now I’m reading the sixth novel in Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobbs series. I have been impressed with these books. Although one or two aren’t as strong as the others, Winspear maintains the feeling and atmosphere of England in the early 1930’s in these detective stories. I get pulled into these books and can sympathize with the happenings.

Among the Mad by Jacqueline WinspearAlthough it’s more than ten years since the Great War ended, its effects still linger. They will for many years to come – probably until overshadowed by the next worldwide conflict within the next 8 or 9 years. Each of these novels deal with some social leftovers from the war in its long range effects.

Among the Mad concentrates on the care of the shell shocked and the depressed. Winspear twines in the case that Maisie has been hired for with the wife of her assistant Billy Beale. Doreen is sinking into deep melancholia after the death of her young daughter less than a year earlier. Maisie is investigating the threats of a man who also appears to be depressed and has slipped over into mad. This man is threatening the people in London, specifically those in the government. He wants the soldiers from the war to be treated better, to receive pensions that provide a living wage, and to receive the respect they deserve. He otherwise will kill unspecified targets. He is using chemical warfare to achieve his ends.

I’m impressed each time I read one of these how Winspear sets these books 75 years ago yet makes them still current. She reminds us there there’s “nothing new under the sun”.

Another example of how she does it? Maisie’s friend Priscilla is fighting depression with more and more alcohol. Priscilla would easily comment “the sun must be over the yardarm somewhere in the Empire.” Hmmmm, now we say “it’s always 5:00 somewhere”.