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Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries) [Paperback]

Jacqueline Winspear
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2004 Maisie Dobbs Mysteries

Young, feisty Maisie Dobbs has recently set herself up as a private detective. Such a move may not seem especially startling. But this is 1929, and Maisie is exceptional in many ways.

Having started as a maid to the London aristocracy, studied her way to Cambridge and served as a nurse in the Great War, Maisie has wisdom, experience and understanding beyond her years. Little does she realise the extent to which this strength of character is soon to be tested. For her first case forces her to uncover secrets long buried, and to confront ghosts from her own past...

In Maisie, Jacqueline Winspear has created a character that readers will immediately take to their hearts. Her first case combines a gripping investigation with a moving portrait of love and loss. It marks the beginning of a wonderful new detective series.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004333
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,532,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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)

A fine new sleuth for the twenty-first century. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget (Elizabeth George)

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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Introducing the delightful Maisie Dobbs, private investigator of love and war in the 1920s, guaranteed to be embraced by mystery lovers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Even if she hadn't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flawed but enjoyable read 21 Jan 2007
By LindyB
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Debut of an Interwar Nancy Drew 18 Mar 2006
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walking wounded from the war 18 Mar 2008
The first of a series of detective mysteries set in England between the two world wars and certainly promises to garner a strong following of crime readers and indeed anyone who likes period novels. It won the prestigious Agatha Award and the Macavity Award, both for Best First Novel. I'd recommend that you start the series with this one.

The story begins in the spring of 1929 and we're immediately introduced to Maisie who is setting up her own private investigation agency in London. But she is not quite what she seems. Gradually, we get to know her until we're drawn into a flashback - 1910 to 1917 - that amounts to over half the book, in which her humble beginnings are revealed and her strong and endearing character is developed.

Previously, Maisie had worked on investigation cases with her mentor, Maurice, but he'd now retired and she wanted to continue alone. Apart from using observation, Maisie has developed an interesting psychological methodology, one aspect of which is to mimic the stance of an individual to glean how they're feeling, and this comes across convincingly. She was also instructed by the mysterious Mr Khan on ways to remain calm and to organise her mental faculties. She engages the help of Billy Beale, an ex-soldier, as her assistant and office manager.

When her first case walked through her door, it seemed a straight-forward if rather boring infidelity issue. The man feared his wife was having an affair. While she agrees to take on the case, Maisie asks the aggrieved husband what value he places on understanding, compassion and forgiveness. This is indeed an unusual private investigator. She will ferret out the truth, but she also feels a responsibility regarding how the truth is dealt with by her clients too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Really enjoyed this book. Can't wait to down load another Maisie Dobbs Mystery soon. Would recommend to anyone who likes a good read.
Published 9 days ago by K Y Millard
5.0 out of 5 stars First of many I hope.
Beautifully written start to an intriguing series.
The character of Maisie, strong but vulnerable, appeals to reader and the historical aspect makes the reality of a terrible... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Mrs. O. White
5.0 out of 5 stars A real sleuth!
I picked up a later Maisie Dobbs in the bookshop, read it and was hooked. This, the first in the series, just made me wat to read more. I'm now on the 6th! Read more
Published 3 months ago by S. Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars a moving and thought-provoking read.
Maisie Dobbs is the first book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Cloggie Downunder
5.0 out of 5 stars Maisie Dobbs
Maisie Dobbs has just started on her own as an investigator with a difference. She uses her knowledge of psychology, meditation and philosophy to get to the bottom of the cases... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Damaskcat
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting to read
Haven't read it yet so I cannot comment on its content but I have enjoyed reading about this character so am looking forward to it.
Published 5 months ago by Caroline Jackon
4.0 out of 5 stars Maisie Dobbs
Maisie Dobbs
I did enjoy the book and it was my first experience of Jacqueline Winspear. I have two others and look forward to continuing in due course. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr S Al-Kudcy
5.0 out of 5 stars Maisie Dobbs
trying to get the full set of books in the serise the book was in good condition hopfully will use the sellar again for more books
Published 8 months ago by Lillian
5.0 out of 5 stars Good as the rest
Good book, easy reading and as satisfying as the rest of her books. Plenty of period detail and interest. Great read.
Published 10 months ago by AliJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Maisie Dobbs Book 1
I am so pleased to have discovered Maisie Dobbs. She is a delightful character - and I am glad that this first book deviated from the main mystery - her first case as a private... Read more
Published 10 months ago by angelpopeye
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