Maisie is beginning to adjust to the loss of Maurice Blanche, and to her new wealth, but her life is still in transition. As she is weighing her relationship with James Compton, and trying to convince her father to move from his cottage into the dower house, she is approached by Special Branch to take on a job rather different from her usual: On behalf of Special Branch and the Secret Service, she is asked to take a position as the junior lecturer in moral philosophy at the College of St. Francis in Cambridge, to look for any evidence of activity "not in the interest of the British Crown." The concerns of Special Branch and the Secret Service center around the pacifism and suspected leftist politics of the founder of the college and the senior staff.
Almost as soon as she has settled into her new position, the founder and principal of the college, Greville Liddicote, is murdered. Maisie is told to leave the murder investigation to Special Branch, and concentrate on her own assignment, but of course it's not that simple. Investigating the staff of the college inevitably means uncovering information relevant to the murder.
As Maisie makes her inquiries and gets to know the school and its people, she finds that Liddicote has a startling past, but not nearly so relevant to the Secret Service as they imagine. Meanwhile, with the First World War that has so dominated the series starting to fade into the past, rumblings of future troubles are making themselves felt, and Maisie finds the enthusiasm among some associated with the college for National Socialism and the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany more disturbing than she can make her handlers understand.
This is a quiet book, with disturbing overtones of what lies ahead, for Maisie, for her friends, and for England.
I borrowed this book from a friend.