Reviewing: Maisie Dobbs Series #1
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Publisher: Soho Crime
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Published: January 2013
Format: Kindle edition, 305 pages
Source: Neighborhood Library
Hailed by NPR’s “Fresh Air” as part “Testament of Youth,” part Dorothy Sayers, and part “Upstairs, Downstairs,” this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.
Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence and the patronage of her benevolent employers, she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.
On the recommendation of a writing friend, I picked up the first in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. It did not take Ms. Winspear too many words to hook me on this delightful character and her story.
After all, who can resist the tale of a girl who starts out as a housemaid, works her way into Cambridge, and ends up in the field as a nurse in WWI. By the time, Ms. Winspear’s readers meet Maisie she is back from the war and a young professional.
Maisie’s story involves mystery and is like most British mysteries. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to keep this reader on her toes. Just when I thought I knew “whodunit,” the road took another turn.
Many say they find Maisie’s mystery too slow-paced, Maisie’s character flat, and her Cockney sidekick and sometime “detective partner” not completely necessary. However, I disagree. I felt the plot line was well-planned, the character development well done, and without the sometime partner humor might not have come so easily to this enjoyable book.
Perhaps because I read Maisie’s first installment while recovering from surgery made it easier for me to like whatever was keeping me busy, but I don’t think so. Winspear’s writing is in all respects British — crisp, clean, polished. As a fan of historical writing, I found her research into events from WWI confirming her investment ensuring the details of this book.
I came away glad I met Maisie and read her story, and I’ll be following up with the next couple of installments.
If you are a lover of historical fiction set in WWI, a story of overcoming odds, and mystery, Maisie Dobbs is highly recommended. Soon I’ll have a review of another Winspear book outside the Maisie Dobbs Series.