cover image The White Lady

The White Lady

Jacqueline Winspear. Harper, $28.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-286798-8

In 1917, Elinor White, the heroine of this smart, nuanced mystery from bestseller Winspear (the Maisie Dobbs series), was working in a resistance network in German-occupied Belgium, where she, then 13, was living with her 15-year-old sister and British mother. Elinor later emigrated to England and served as a British intelligence agent. Now, in 1947, she lives quietly in Kent, staying aloof from the inhabitants of tiny Shackleford until the arrival of Jim Mackie; his wife, Rose; and their three-year-old daughter, Susie. Jim has left London and taken work as a farmhand to break away from the crime family into which he was born. His brothers are now pressuring him to help them pull off their latest criminal operation. Trauma in Elinor’s past has made her acutely sensitive to children in peril, and she can’t resist trying to protect Susie and her parents. As Elinor uses her undercover skills and former intelligence contacts to try to foil the Mackie brothers’ plans, her sleuthing has unexpected personal repercussions. The chapters illuminating Elinor’s dramatic backstory add vulnerability to her characterization, enriching the suspenseful main narrative. This will please both Winspear’s fans and new readers. Agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (Mar.)