End of the tunnel
Fifteen years after the close of WWI, psychologist/investigator Maisie Dobbs finds herself reliving old horrors from the days when she served as a nurse in military mental wards. “Shell shock”, the generic term for psychological damage incurred on the battlefield, is a relatively new concept, and, sad to say, the government has essentially washed its hands of the hundreds of thousands of former soldiers who suffered nerve damage and crippling neurosis. Now, as 1931 draws to a close, the Great Depression has magnified the deprivation and desperation of these lost men. And one of them has decided to fight back, with weapons only he is capable of devising. Seconded to the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, Maisie takes her spot on an elite team who must race against the clock and the machinations of the unknown killer. Using her unique experiences and perceptual talents, she must re-immerse herself into the world of those who have lost their souls. But who is more “mad”, the victims of the war, or those who refuse to ameliorate the suffering? Author Winspear does an admirable job of dramatizing the central issues of this novel, from depression to government corruption and the self imposed blindness of society. (The subject of chemical warfare is particularly timely.) Her characters, as usual, are infused with credibility. Maisie, of course, accepts her responsibilities and never deviates from her ideals and principals. Sometimes one wishes that her formidable self discipline would totter a bit, but there are some cracks becoming visible in the shell that she needed to erect to survive. Among the Mad is a fine addition to an engaging and relevant series.