The White Lady introduces yet another extraordinary heroine from Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series. This heart-stopping novel, set in Post WWII Britain in 1947, follows the coming of age and maturity of former wartime operative Elinor White—veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity—when she is drawn back into the world of menace she has been desperate to leave behind.
A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, ultimately exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government.
The private, quiet “Miss White” as Elinor is known, lives in a village in rural Kent, England, and to her fellow villagers seems something of an enigma. Well she might, as Elinor occupies a “grace and favor” property, a rare privilege offered to faithful servants of the Crown for services to the nation. But the residents of Shacklehurst have no way of knowing how dangerous Elinor’s war work had been, or that their mysterious neighbor is haunted by her past.
It will take Susie, the child of a young farmworker, Jim Mackie and his wife, Rose, to break through Miss White’s icy demeanor—but Jim has something in common with Elinor. He, too, is desperate to escape his past. When the powerful Mackie crime family demands a return of their prodigal son for an important job, Elinor assumes the task of protecting her neighbors, especially the bright-eyed Susie. Yet in her quest to uncover the truth behind the family’s pursuit of Jim, Elinor unwittingly sets out on a treacherous path—yet it is one that leads to her freedom.
Jacqueline Winspear is one of the best writers of historical fiction practicing today. Her Maisie Dobbs series is pretty perfect, and this stand-alone effort is just as good as any of the Dobbs books.
The setting is somewhat familiar – Winspear’s strength is her capacious knowledge of the two World Wars and all aspects of the service that went into both, especially service by women. Here, we have a retired spy/assassin who is trying to build a life away from the service. Try as she might, she cannot avoid getting involved with other humans, another thing that is common on Winspear’s work. She has an uncanny way of writing characters who think they want to be alone but who end up forging important and long-lasting friendships.
The writing here is excellent, with good descriptive passages and well-delivered dialog. I’d expect nothing less from this author. Winspear’s fans won’t be disappointed.
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Published By: Harper
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy