Although I'd only read the first and second novels in the Maisie Dobbs series before diving into the seventh book, The Mapping of Love and Death, Winspear once again stays true to a certain pattern she has set in her books. Maisie is introduced to a case, she begins her -- seemingly straight-forward -- investigation, and everything promptly falls apart. Other (often unpaid and unrequested) side cases materialize; murders occur; accidents happen. Maisie being Maisie, she never leaves well enough alone -- and she never leaves any stone unturned.
In The Mapping of Love and Death, Maisie is hired by an American couple to find their cartographer son's lost love. As he perished in the Great War, Maisie has only a packet of letters and a diary to use in her investigation. The simple request snowballs into quite a mess as the elderly couple is brutally attacked just after leaving Maisie's office. Compounding the problem are a tangle of family secrets and a bit of violence toward Maisie herself.
Maisie leans heavily upon friends and family in The Mapping of Love and Death. Despite her independent streak, as she has matured, Maisie has learned the value of loved ones. Both in her cases and in her personal life, Maisie has come a long way from her debut in Maisie Dobbs (my review). Although still fiercely self-determined, she has at last come to rely on a select few people, which often changes things enormously both in her career and in her life. It seems in this seventh installment of the series that Maisie may at last have found a suitor, as well.
Although set in the 1930s, Winspear carefully connects each case -- and therefore, each novel in the Maisie Dobbs series -- to World War I. Maisie inevitably finds a link to the war within the cases she investigates. Although a decade and a half has gone by since the war's end, the people in England are only just beginning to recover. Then, of course, the Great Depression occurs in America, affecting Europe, as well. Winspear expertly recreates England in this era in her novels. Although description and setting play a large part, Winspear also manages to write in an old-fashioned manner that lends itself to the time period. Her words are chosen carefully, dialogue meticulously written to echo speech at the time.
The Maisie Dobbs series is a delight for both fans of historical fiction as well as mystery lovers. Winspear manages just the right balance of 1930s era description and page-turning suspense, coupled with an engaging main character.
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of nine books in the Maisie Dobbs series. You can follow Winspear on Facebook, at her website, or on her blog MaisieDobbs.com.
March is Maisie Month, and TLC Book Tours has planned a month-long book tour to celebrate the release of the ninth book in the series, Elegy for Eddie.
For a full listing of stops on the tour, visit TLC's March is Maisie Month page. Last week, the first six books in the series were reviewed. This week is all about The Mapping of Love and Death:
- Monday, March 12th: Lit and Life
- Wednesday, March 14th: Starting Fresh
- Thursday, March 15th: Broken Teepee
- Friday, March 16th: Unabridged Chick
Next week you'll find reviews of the eighth Maisie Dobbs book, A Lesson in Secrets, followed by reviews of the brand-new Elegy for Eddie March 26-30. Haven't yet read a Maisie book? Take this opportunity to pick one up and catch up on the series before Elegy for Eddie releases March 27.