I’m Mad for Maisie: Discussion Questions for Among the Mad
I thought that I’d share a little bit more on Among the Mad since it’s the first book I’ve managed to get my act together for regarding the read-a-long.
1) I know this was my favorite so far of the series – how did you feel overall about Among the Mad?
Goodness, yes! This was, by far, my favorite. I’m not sure that it really tops Messenger of Truth in all aspects but for the subject matter and the activity involved, I just loved this. It was fast, interesting, fun and smart. Billy’s family got some great play time and Pris was back on the scene in a major way. I loved that Maisie was “one of the guys” and not just a female protégé, if that makes any sort of clear distinction.
2) My favorite line in the novel was this one, delivered by Maisie to Stratton after the explosion on Christmas Eve: “Forgetting has never been of concern to me, Inspector. It’s the remembering that gives me pause.” Did you have a favorite, or how did you feel about this line?
I loved, loved that line. Maisie, in the first few books, was not always as witty and/or funny as I thought suited her smarts but, one of the reasons I loved this section of the series was for that reason. In my review, I mentioned that I thought she reminded me much more of Cassie, Frank or Rob from Tana French’s crime novels, this time around, and the funniness was, I think, what did it.
3) Perhaps I missed something, but was anyone else surprised to find out, when Stratton is talking to Maisie about why she’s needed on this particular case, that she has helped train detectives? “Your contribution to the training of our women detectives [at the Yard] has not gone unnoticed.” Does anyone remember this from one of the earlier books?
I guess I didn’t read this, literally. I think I took it to mean that the boys at the yard, after meeting and working with Maisie, have been, over the past few years, much more in tune and aware of, sadly, the benefits of widening the gene pool on the force. This probably was in reference to Maisie’s exceptional skills in the area people didn’t, a decade before, think to look when women were concerned but also, simply the time changing with so many men off to war or damaged due to battle.
4) It seemed to me that with MacFarlane (perhaps more so than with Stratton), Maisie may have met her match. I loved the scene where he called her on her habit of mirroring another person’s movements to make them more comfortable and likely to talk. It was nice to see someone figuring out her tricks – so that she has to raise her game. What did you think of MacFarlane?
Again, this reminded me of French. If Maisie is Cassie and Rob is Stratton, McFarlane is, far and away, Frank. For those who haven’t read French, it’s basically that while Stratton is smart and sweet, MacFarlane’s more brash with balls but he does, eventually get things moving in A direction. I think he and Maisie tend to act with a great deal of intuition but not always a lot of reserve which, hey, is how I tend to roll. Can’t complain about it, to be honest! I definitely found myself enjoying his addition tom the team and though I’ll always have a soft spot for Stratton, I think that I just found a new love.
5) I was glad that Priscilla was more a part of this novel, and glad to see that Maisie is expanding her social world and putting herself out there, even socializing with the detectives at the Yard. Do you think we’ll see a more social Maisie in future books?
I hope so. I love Pris and I’ve always found Maisie to be a bit of a savant stick in the mud even though she’s perfectly lovely. I know, tell us how you really feel. ;O)
6) The subplot surrounding Billy Beale and his wife is heartbreaking. It was interesting to see how the treatment of Mrs. Beale mirrored that of the asylum inmates who were injured by the war. I was glad that Maisie was able to help — lord knows what would happen to most women of Mrs. Beale’s station without the intervention of someone like Maisie — and I hope that we see some hopeful resolution there soon.
I’ve always been interested in the advancement (or in the old days, lack thereof) of mental health issues. Doreen’s status and treatment were, indeed, heart breaking. I can only say that I’m glad this sort of thing is not the norm, today, thank goodness!