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Maisie Dobbs Hardcover – 5 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition edition (5 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719566215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719566219
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.3 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 919,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A wry and immensely readable beginning to what promises to be a vivid new addition to crime fiction (Mail on Sunday)

Maisie Dobbs is a welcome and unusual addition to the crowded world of literary detectives. ... A very readable whodunnit (Sainsbury's Magazine)

Sue Baker's 'Quarterly Highlights' (Publisher's Weekly)

Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget (Elizabeth George)

Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs is a welcome addition to the sleuthing scene. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget (Elisabeth George)

Very well written ... [Jacqueline Winspear has] a very bright future as a crime novelist (Daily Mail)

Even if detective stories aren't your thing, you'll love Maisie Dobbs (New Woman)

Readers sensing a story-within-a-story won't be disappointed. But first, they must prepare to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment (New York Times)

Much more than just another detective story... thought-provoking (Newbooksmag)

American readers loved it; many Brits will, too. (Guardian)

Readers sensing a story-within-a-story won't be disappointed. (New York Times)

It's a long time since I've read a crime novel that begins as well as Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs ... very well written ... [Jacqueline Winspear has] a very bright future as a crime novelist (Daily Mail)

Feisty, working-class heroine Maisie is a deliberate throwback to the sleuthettes of old-fashioned crime writing and will appeal to all those fans who pine for uncomplicated characters and a strong demarcation between good and bad. The well-plotted story, its characters and the picture of London between the wars are decidedly romantic. American readers loved it; many Brits will, too. (The Guardian)

The book is much more than a cosy mystery - it is also about women's growing emancipation and the profound changes to society after the First World War. (Mail on Sunday's You)

A notable new heroine whose adventures are set to continue. (Saga)

'In Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear has given us a real gift. Maisie Dobbs has not been created - she has been discovered. Such people are always there amongst us, waiting for somebody like Ms. Winspear to come along and reveal them. And what a revelation it is!'

Alexander McCall Smith

(Alexander McCall Smith)

Book Description

Introducing the delightful Maisie Dobbs, private investigator of love and war in 1920s London, guaranteed to be embraced by crime readers everywhere

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Luthien Arnatuile on 27 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. On Amazon it is often compared to Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and while I have not read those books, I have seen the TV series and yes, I can agree with them. It resembles that series BUT... at the same time not.
Maisie Dobbs grows up in a very strict social order and class system without any prospects beyond becoming a maid. But she has a very bright mind and the luck of working for a woman that wants to make a changes in society. She is given the opportunity to study and step out of the class where she was born. Then World War 1 breaks out and she lies about her age to become a nurse and help out. Not until the war is over, can she return to her studies and then continue being trained by a man that is doing something so modern as being an investigator and psychologist at the same time.
Some people have complained that there is only a mystery at the beginning and at the end of the book. Yes, that is true. At the same time, I as a reader wanted the story in between. The whole middle section tells Maisie's story so that the author can make a series out of this heroine. She builds up Maisie's backround so we know where Maisie is coming from, what she has encountered during the war and what people she knows. This needs to be done somewhere and why not after having started the mystery???
Since the book is set in 1929, cases can not be solved quickly and have to be done so without modern technology and often with the help of psychology. She is an Hercules Poirot and a Miss Marple and yet, entirely a person of her own, an loveable, attractive young lady with a broken heart.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By LindyB on 21 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
I'd prefer to review this along with the second book, Birds of a Feather, simultaneously, because I thought that there were problems with the first book which the author had resolved by the second. In Maisie Dobbs, it seems to me as though Winspear doesn't wear her research lightly enough: she gives in to the temptation to cram in all the knowledge she's gleaned about the Great War period into a single book, even when it isn't particularly valuable to the plot.

The book could have benefitted also from a more alert editor: in the retreat, a man 'not yet thirty' is mentioned just a couple of pages before 'the youngest man she met must have been thirty'. Those kind of mistakes (paradoxically just like the over layering of period detail) create a barrier between reader and narrative.

However, I think that Winspear has created a wonderful character (even if she is a little 'too good to be true'). And the story she is given in the second book allows all the potential of the first book to blossom. In fact, it seems to me that Maisie's "back story" need not have been narrated. The hints to her past that one can glimpse from the second book are surely enough, and Winspear could have allowed us to gain more and more knowledge of her over a larger series of books.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Aug 2005
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Maisie Dobbs will delight in this new addition to her series, and those who are new to her have a treat in store. All these mysteries take place in the aftermath of World War I, this one taking place between September and October, 1930. Maisie is a survivor, having enlisted, at seventeen, in the nursing corps, where she served in France in the final, horrific days of the war. A terrible attack, which killed many of the doctors, nurses, and soldiers she was tending, has left her suffering nightmares more than ten years later. Now working as a psychologist/investigator in London, Maisie stays busy to avoid dealing with her demons.
Three mysteries unfold simultaneously. Avril Jarvis, age 13, is arrested for the murder of her "uncle" when she is found with a knife in her hand and blood on her clothes. Penniless, she has no counsel until Maisie takes a case involving Sir Cecil Lawton, whom she persuades to represent Avril as part of her fee. Sir Cecil's son Ralph disappeared during the war in France, and his wife, believing him still alive, has exacted a deathbed promise that Sir Cecil will search for him. In addition, one of Maisie's friends from the Ambulance Corps, now married to a wealthy author in France, has begged her to try to find where the third of her brothers died and was buried in France.
The horrors of World War I pervade the novel, and when Maisie goes to France, these horrors come alive, not just for the reader but for Maisie, and she learns she must "slay her dragons" at last. Intriguing characters add color to the novel--a doctor who has been with the secret service, a psychic who knows too much about Maisie, a paralyzed member of Parliament who was a close friend of Ralph Lawton, and an elegant woman and her granddaughter who live in a decaying castle.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Mar 2006
Format: Paperback
By rights, I'm just the right reader for this book: I love mysteries (especially British ones), I find WWI fascinating, I find the interwar era and the whole "upstairs-downstairs" British class stuff interesting. And yet...while mildly diverting and obviously well-researched, this first book in a series about a plucky young female investigator/psychologist really didn't work for me. It's written as if the intended readership were 10-14 year-old girls, which is fine, but as an adult, it's hard to find Nancy Drewish escapades of a flawless heroine all that fulfilling.
The framework is a little unconventional (though not the disaster some reviewers make it out to be): the first part of the book introduces us to 20something Maisie Dobbs, just opening her business in London. Her first case is a classic assignment: a man who is worried his wife is cheating on him wants Maisie to check into it. As her investigation unfolds there are allusions to Maisie's past and a mysterious mentor, but nothing is spelled out. Suddenly, the story drifts back in time to 1910 or so, and we are reintroduced to a younger Maisie as she enters service as a housemaid for an aristocratic family. We follow dutifully along as her employers discover her reading Latin in the library and extend their patronage, allowing her to be tutored by their strange friend (and apparent spy) Maurice, and eventually supporting her bid to go to Cambridge (Girton College). Despite success at school, when World War I starts, she decides to join the Red Cross, and eventually serves as a nurse in France, where she witnesses the horror of war.
The final third of the book then shifts back the the postwar era, and Maisie's patron asks her help in a family matter.
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