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The White Lady    by Jacqueline Winspear order for
White Lady
by Jacqueline Winspear
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2023 (2023)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jacqueline Winspear, author of the engaging Maisie Dobbs mysteries, now introduces a new lead in The White Lady. It opens in 1947 Britain, where we meet the reclusive Elinor White. A trained killer and spy, she fought in both World Wars, and now rests on her laurels in a grace and favour property in Shacklehurst, Kent.

Elinor is very reluctantly drawn from her quiet existence by three-year-old Susie, daughter of young farmworker Jim Mackie (who worked at bomb disposal in the war) and his wife Rose. Jim is a member of the powerful Mackie crime family, who hold on to their own and threaten his wife and daughter to keep him in line. He only wants to escape that life.

Elinor contacts an old colleague, now Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Warren. He briefs her on the Mackies and assigns two Detective Sergeants to help her look into their activities - and their possible plan for a major hit. Elinor insinuates herself with Mackie daughter Elsie Finch, who's discounted by the males in her family - and shouldn't be.

The back story - of Elinor's childhood in Belgium and how she came to be a spy - is just as interesting as the later story and the author switches back and forth between them. Along the way, Elinor finds the answer to a wartime horror that has haunted her, finds some honor in a thief, and reconnects with a very old friend and mentor. This is either a standalone or the first in a new series - I hope for the latter.

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