Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Themes: War, adoption, family
(From Goodreads): Sunday September 3rd 1939. At the moment Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation Britain’s declaration of war with Germany, a senior Secret Service agent breaks into Maisie Dobbs’ flat to await her return. Dr. Francesca Thomas has an urgent assignment for Maisie: to find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy, some twenty-three years earlier during the Great War.
In a London shadowed by barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the threat of invasion, within days another former Belgian refugee is found murdered. And as Maisie delves deeper into the killings of the dispossessed from the “last war,” a new kind of refugee — an evacuee from London — appears in Maisie’s life. The little girl billeted at Maisie’s home in Kent does not, or cannot, speak, and the authorities do not know who the child belongs to or who might have put her on the “Operation Pied Piper” evacuee train. They know only that her name is Anna.
As Maisie’s search for the killer escalates, the country braces for what is to come. Britain is approaching its gravest hour — and Maisie could be nearing a crossroads of her own.
I was shocked that this book was a mystery! I won it off of Goodreads or Twitter (I can’t remember), and my first impression was that it was a historical fiction novel when it came in the mail. Well, it technically is, but the mystery factor was a total surprise, and a nice one. Mystery books are my absolute favourite!
In This Grave Hour immediately draws you into the life of Maisie Dobbs, where the declaration of war has just been announced; the world is in turmoil, but despite this, Maisie must put these worries aside and do her job as an investigator. I love her thinking process, and the fact that we get to experience this throughout the whole book. You never know what to expect next, and you’re taken on a roller coaster of close calls and character-defining moments.
I don’t know too much about this series, but I definitely didn’t need to read the previous books to understand what was going on, and I’m so thankful for that! It makes jumping into a series that much easier since you don’t need an entire 12 books before it to know why a character is in their current situation. I know the backstory is always nice to have, but I’m glad it wasn’t needed for this book.
The amount of times though that I thought in my head about Maisie doing things the easier way, like looking up a location on google or stalking someone on the internet to find out more about who they are…..then I remembered…..THERE IS NO INTERNET IN THESE BOOKS. I can’t believe how crazy this is, I know! There was still a time before the internet happened, and to solve crimes, you had to depend on the public, knowing your east/west, luck, and just plain old common sense. A long list, right? Well, that’s what had to be done, and I really appreciate how these minute details really make this book historical. The time period was depicted perfectly in this book, and it’s just like discovering a whole new world that you wish to be a part of.
The writing was on point, and the crime was expertly written. It had me guessing who the killer was all the way to the end! It just shows that you can never really trust the people around you. Unless that’s the Criminal Minds part of my brain that’s acting up again?
If you’re a huge fan of historical fiction books, then this absolutely one to put on your TBR list. I haven’t come across a time-period novel that was written as well as In This Grave Hour, and I definitely want to keep reading more. On to the first Maisie Dobbs novel!