Monday, December 18, 2006

Maisie Dobbs A Different Kind of Detective Story

Jacqueline Winspear's first novel, Maisie Dobbs, is my favorite kind of book - one that takes a pinch from one genre, a dash from another, and mixes it all together to create a work that is rich, full and unique. The story opens in the Spring of 1929, as the title character is opening a detective agency in London. Soon, she receives her first assignment, to follow a young wife suspected of cheating on her older husband. As Maisie trails the woman (Celia Davenham), she begins to discover that her open-and-shut case is much more complicated than she first imagined. Maisie finds that Celia is not, in fact, meeting a lover, but trekking daily to a country cemetery to visit a grave marked only "Vincent." The detective's search for Vincent leads her to "The Retreat," a gated community for veterans of the Great War, whose wounds are so horrific that they seek refuge from the outside world. Suspicious of the site's leader, Major Jenkins, Maisie digs deeper into his past, unwittingly re-opening the emotional wounds she suffered while a nurse at the front. Trying not to become mired in her own hurts, Maisie races against the clock to expose Major Jenkins before he can inflict any more damage on men who have already suffered so greatly.
As I said before, the story offers a little bit of everything - history, adventure, humor, romance, and heartache. The plot moves quickly (although, I admit, it is pretty predictable), the characters are interesting, and the prose is succint. It's been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but I think it is much richer than Smith's story. It's a good read - not a page turner necessarily, but definitely worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. The Maisie Dobbs books are great. Are you doing the readalong? I have started collecting the Ladies Detective Agency books then I can start to the read them - slightly OCDish!

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