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A Sunlit Weapon: Maisie Dobbs #17    by Jacqueline Winspear order for
Sunlit Weapon
by Jacqueline Winspear
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Sunlit Weapon is the seventeenth Maisie Dobbs adventure, following The Consequences of Fear. Maisie is a resourceful investigator with strong psychological insights. She nursed in France during the Great War. Now she runs her own detective agency and is married to American diplomat Mark Scott.

WAAF pilot Jo Hardy shares the limelight with Maisie in this episode. Her job is to ferry aircraft between locations to meet war needs. She's doing so in 1942 when she's shot at from the ground. Jo identifies the location and returns later, only to find a black American soldier bound and gagged in the barn. He tells her that men had taken his friend Charlie and were going to kill him. Private Matthias Crittenden is handed over to the Yanks who interrogate him about Charlie's disappearance - his color makes him an easy scapegoat.

Two days later, when another ferry pilot goes down in the same area and is killed instantly, Jo consults Maisie, who searches the barn and finds intriguing papers that turn out to relate to a planned visit to Britain by US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She might be in danger. Maisie and Mark work together on this and he also helps her ease Private Crittenden's situation. Meanwhile, Maisie's adopted daughter Anna is dealing with racism at school and her assistant Billy Beale agonizes over the fate of his son, taken in Singapore by the Japanese and being transferred to Burma.

As we expect, Maisie susses it all out, clears Crittenden of the charges against him, and generally saves the day. This is one of the best Maisie Dobbs stories, though what I appreciated most in it was its descriptions of the bravery and exploits of the female pilots. Don't miss Winspear's Author's Note at the end that tells us more about Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary.

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