Maisie Dobbs is asked by her father's old costermonger friends to investigate the sudden death of Eddie Pettit, Eddie is a much loved figure in their old neighborhood, a "slow" (more probably, autistic) man with a rare gift with horses. One of his side jobs had been running errands at a paper-making factory, and he was killed when a large roll of paper came off the overhead transport and landed on him. Purely an accident.
Except that while accidents at the paper factory are fairly common, no one has ever been killed by a falling roll of paper before.
Eddie had been expanding his list of clients, going further abroad and serving wealthier households. He'd tracked down an especially loved teacher from his school days, and quietly, privately, was improving his reading and writing skills. Had Eddie seen something he shouldn't? Did someone think he had?
This is an investigation that pushes Maisie back into her own childhood, and to confront some of the choices she's made in her own life--her difficulty accepting her new wealth, her insufficiently restrained desire to fix all problems for all her less prosperous friends, her discomfort with having servants. Her relationship with James Crompton is less comfortable than it has been; they seem to be moving in different directions, in addition to the plain fact that Maisie feels suffocated by the idea of being a society wife and the demands that would place on her.
What happened to Eddie? Is Maisie's relationship with James heading for break-up? What is Maisie doing to the people she thinks she's helping?
While she's struggling with these questions, she meets Winston Churchill while he's still a washed-up has-been, and a newspaper owner who seems to be manipulating the news in unexpected ways.
This is as much a character study as a mystery, as Maisie works her way through some very difficult questions with no clear, black and white answers.
I borrowed this book from a friend.