Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mystery 1) Paperback – 7 Feb 2005
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Sue Baker's 'Quarterly Highlights' (Publishing News)
'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)
It's a long time since I've read a crime novel that begins as well as Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs ... well written ... [Jacqueline Winspear] is set fair for a very bright future as a crime novelist. (Simon Brett, 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)
Maisie Dobbs is a welcome and unusual addition to the crowded world of literary detectives ... A very readable whodunnit (Sainsbury's Magazine)
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 (Elizabeth George)
Much more than just another detective story... thought-provoking (Newbooksmag)
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 wry and immensely readable beginning to what promises to be a vivid new addition to crime fiction (Mail on Sunday)
Even if detective stories aren't your thing, you'll love Maisie Dobbs (New Woman)
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)
Maisie Dobbs takes on her first investigation in 1920s LondonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I recall reading this book when it was first released but, like so many other series I start, somehow this fell by the wayside. Read morePublished 9 days ago by S Riaz
This is the first of Maisie Dobbs’s series of mystery novels set in 1930s Europe and for me it was a mixed bag. Read morePublished 12 days ago by JazzFeathers
Got most of it, however there was a twist at the end which I did not see. Will not read the rest of the books.Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
Not my usual style of book, but it was recommended for our book club so I gave it a go. I was glad I did. Read morePublished 1 month ago by moany mum
Saw that there was a series of Maisie Dodds books, so thought I would buy the first one, and see how I got on, I enjoyed it immensely, so now intend to read all of them.Published 1 month ago by Alan M-G