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Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear: A Book Review

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2003
Pages: 305
Source: Borrowed from my State Public Library
Synopsis: "A female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander." 
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air, on Maisie Dobbs

     Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education.

     The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found—and lost—an important part of herself. Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.

     In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.

     My Review: Maisie Dobbs, who was once a maid for an aristocratic family, is now a private investigator. One day a man comes into her office and asks if she could investigate if his wife is having an affair. Maisie soon realizes that there is more to this case than meets the eyes. For what seems like a domestic case, actually reveals a truth much darker. Evidence shows that the investigation may have a connection to a murder case. Can Maisie find the killer or will the killer be able to get away with murder?

     Maisie seems to be a very capable young woman. She is clever, resourceful, and hard-working. However, there is more to her than meets the eye.  The reader learns the story of Maisie’s accomplishments, obstacles, and tragedies. She is an emotionally distraught young woman, who has been scared by WWI. Because of the problems facing her, I found her to be a strong, courageous, and compassionate woman. She is very devoted to those she loves. Thus, Maisie is not only a likable character, but is also very sympathetic. Readers can relate to Maisie’s struggles as she tries to find a place in the world after the war and peace.

     Overall, this book is about people trying to heal and recover after the war. The novel has interesting characters, and I would like to know more about them. I think Maisie Dobbs would have been more enjoyable if it were two novels instead of one. The beginning starts with the mystery, then for half the book, it embarks on Maisie’s background, then the last quarter jumps back to the mystery again. Because Maisie’s background didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the mystery, it was out of place. Maisie Dobbs would have been much better if it focused solely on Maisie’s background, and the next book would have been the mystery aspect. Maisie Dobbs storyline of how she became a detective seems very far-fetched and was more like a fairy-tale. Still, this novel left me wanting to read more of the Maisie Dobbs series. I recommend this novel to fans of the Phryne Fisher, Bess Crawford, and Mary Russell series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars



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