Maisie Dobbs

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To fulfill the Cozy Mystery requirement of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, I was originally going to review Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.  Since that time (several months ago), I’ve read six more books in the series and am currently reading book #8, A Lesson in Secrets.  At this point, Maisie and I are practically on a first name basis.  Discussing just one book feels like a cop-out; I would much rather gush about the whole series.  Thank you for indulging me…

Maisie Dobbs is a psychologist and private investigator living in London in the late 1920’s in the aftermath of the first world war.  Her own story is as interesting as the crimes she solves and more is revealed about her with each new mystery she investigates.  Not only is Maisie smart, she uses some unusual techniques to discern the truth.  She is adept at deep mediation, she practices posture mimicking to discern the feelings of her clients and the people she interviews, she uses some interesting tactics such as dowsing to help her locate clues, and she relies heavily on her intuition (which borders on the supernatural) to guide her investigations.  Maisie is a deep thinker and a very private person yet struggles with loneliness and longs for companionship.  I’ve enjoyed watching her grow and mature throughout the series.

Beyond liking Maisie, I’m drawn to this mystery series for several other reasons.  The plots are imaginative and intriguing and are always related to WWI in some way.  The recurring supporting characters such as Maisie’s assistant Billy Beale, her father Frankie, her mentor Maurice Blanche and her friend Priscilla provide depth, fertile material for sub-plots and continuity to the series.  The settings of London and the surrounding countryside satisfy the Anglophile in me. The history of the era is well-researched and permeates the stories in every aspect from fashion to social culture to politics. And, on top of all this, Jacqueline Winspear’s writing is a pleasure to read: artfully descriptive, empathetic to the human condition and compelling. Combine all these qualities together and the result is a fun, fascinating and informative reading experience.

I was destined to love this series.  It is excellent historical fiction written around a heroine I can rally behind in a time period I enjoy. The books are not heavy or difficult to read and I’ve been gravitating toward them when I find myself in need of escape from my frazzled life.  For this very reason, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Maisie lately.

I don’t know that the Maisie Dobbs series really satisfies the requirements of the Cozy Mystery genre.  Maisie is a professional sleuth, after all, who is usually employed by strangers and who travels a great deal to solve her mysteries.  What I do know is that when I read these books, I want to curl up in the leather chair in my living room with a snuggly blanket, a lazy cat and a steaming cup of tea and read the afternoon away.

And that, dear friends, is cozy enough for me.

Maisie Dobbs

{ via goodreads }

My progress in The Eclectic Reader Challenge:

  • Award Winning
  • True Crime (Non Fiction) – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 4.5/5 stars
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding  3/5 stars
  • Alternate History Fiction
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi  5/5 stars
  • Cozy Mystery Fiction – Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear 4/5 stars
  • Gothic Fiction
  • War/Military Fiction
  • Anthology
  • Medical Thriller Fiction
  • Travel (Non Fiction)
  • Published in 2014

 

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