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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Mystery/suspense, HF
Hardback 320 pages
Book Source: the library
My Rating: 85/100
Recommended by: Julie from Booking Mama

From the author's website:

Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, began her working life at the age of thirteen as a servant in a Belgravia mansion, only to be discovered reading in the library by her employer, Lady Rowan Compton. Fearing dismissal, Maisie is shocked when she discovers that her thirst for education is to be supported by Lady Rowan and a family friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche. But The Great War intervenes in Maisie's plans, and soon after commencement of her studies at Girton College, Cambridge, Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas.

Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own business. Her first assignment, a seemingly tedious inquiry involving a case of suspected infidelity, takes her not only on the trail of a killer, but back to the war she had tried so hard to forget.

My Thoughts:

The story starts out in present day, after WW I, and Maisie Dobbs is setting up her business.  She takes on the case of following a woman to ascertain if she is cheating on her husband.   Maisie likes to quote or remember to herself, many of the anecdotes that Maurice has taught her, about listening to people and communication them.  Maisie also "inclines her head" to get the other party to continue talking quite often.  Trivial but these two things worked my nerves.  I didn't like Maisie.  There was something about her, and I was starting to not care what happened.  Then the story shifted to the past, more specifically Maisie's past.

Maisie's childhood, how she met Lady Rowan and Maurice, and her participation in WW I are explained.  Maisie is a very intelligent and determined young lady.  She has had a tough road, and suffered great heartache as a result of the war.  This Maisie I liked.  This was someone I could sit and have tea with.

The story then switches back to present day, WW I, and Maisie delves further into something she discovered when working the previous case.  This part of the story was interesting and a bit heart breaking, but again the Maisie I wasn't crazy about returned, and I had to struggle through to finish. 

Therefore, I am of two minds on this one.  The one Maisie I liked, the other I did not.  As far as the historical fiction, mystery and suspense elements go, Winspear does a lovely job.  The WW I time period has many stories just waiting to be told, and this one barely scratched the surface.  The mystery of the "farm" was solved, and I am curious if these types of places really existed.  I could totally see why they would, and what a shame.  It never ceases to amaze me what our earlier generations dealt with.

For more information, please visit the author's webite:

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF