Tag Archives: Maisie Dobbs

Maise Dobbs to the Rescue!

MaisePosterI have joined the “Maisie Dobbs” fanclub.  Yes, that simple, hard-working and wildly intelligent girl sleuth of the 1920’s has captured my heart.  Author Jacqueline Winspear has created a unique tale–a combination mystery, history, romance and psychological study of human nature.  The story begins when Maisie, just having hung out her shingle as a private investigator, is hired by a client to find out where his wife is sneaking off to.  This launches her into an investigation much broader than a straying spouse, and something much more sinister.  She soon uncovers a “Retreat,” ostensibly set up as a refuge for soldiers who were hideously scarred during The Great War, but when some inmates start disappearing, it launches Maisie into an investigation that forces her to revisit the horrors she personally experienced and face up to her past.  The interesting thing about the structure of the book is that it flies in the face of all “good story writing” advice.  Just as we as readers are getting sucked into the mystery, the author digresses and fills the whole middle of the book with the story of Maisie–how she came to be an educated Cambridge gal from her humble beginnings as a house maid. We return to the mystery at the end of the book, and the background story is such a satisfying tale that we forgive the interruption.  The novel is full of rich characters, from her inscrutable mentor, Maurice Blanche, to her working-class side kick, Billy Beale–some of which are a bit “over the top.” But we forgive and love them for it.  Just so, Maisie herself is sometimes just too good, smart, and pretty to be true, but somehow Winspear makes it work.  I’m delighted to see that this is just the first in a series of Maisie adventures.  She’s just the cure for a long, dreary winter.  (One minor note: I was dismayed to see how poorly my copy of the book was edited.  Some helpful previous reader penciled in a lot of corrections.  A shame!)

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