Maisie Dobbs is once again working on a mystery with potentially explosive consequences for a family. Dr. Charles Hayden, the American doctor she met during the war and has continued to correspond with, has referred to her some Boston friends who want to know what happened to their son. Edward Clifton, the son of a major British shoe manufacturer, left England for America as a young man, and made his own fortune in America. In 1914, his youngest son, Michael, a cartographer, bought some land in California and then, hearing of the start of World War I, travels to England to enlist in the British army. He never returns, and his body, along with the rest of his cartography unit, has just been found now, twelve years after the end of the war. Because he was "missing," the family has been unable to resolve his estate; more importantly, Michael's journals and letters he had received and saved show that he had met and fallen in love with a young woman. His parents would like to find her, to close the circle on their son's life.
What Dr. Hayden and Mr. Clifton know from the French autopsy, but Mrs. Clifton hasn't been told, is that Michael didn't die from the shelling that killed the rest of his unit. His skull was crushed by a blow from behind, before the shelling.
As Maisie works through the evidence, looking for Michael's killer and his lost love, she quickly learns that the killer may be nearby. The Cliftons are attacked, Maisie is knocked down and her document case stolen. This isn't just a dozen-year-old crime; the danger is real and present.
Meanwhile, Maisie's personal life is getting complicated. Maurice is very ill. Billy Beal's wife Doreen is home from the hospital (due to events in prior books), but still very shaky. Andrew Deane is married, but her friend Priscilla introduces her to a jourmalist friend of her husband's, who is very interested. And James Compton is back from Canada to stay, and inviting her to go to a car race with him.
Maisie is juggling a lot here, but she does it with charm, grace, and intelligence as usual. Another worthy entry in the serious.