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The more I read Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, the more I wondered if it’s been a BBC or Masterpiece Theatre series. It’s familiar in the same way as Downton Abbey and Miss Marple: easy-to-like characters, strong spirit of place and impeccable English sensibilities.

A friend recommended Maisie Dobbs several months ago. I am thrilled that, unlike past initial encounters with mystery (in this case mystery-lite) writers, I was steered to the first in the series. Winspear’s Maisie is an exceptionally intelligent, caring young woman. Although I am sure subsequent books will provide the necessary backstory, I enjoyed meeting Maisie in the inaugural. Maisie is a private investigator in post-war London. Thanks to a benefactor, a mentor and her own gifts of curiosity and intellect, Maisie is given the opportunity to leave a life of service and pursue her education. She is out of her league on the social ladder, but is several rungs higher than most others she encounters in areas that truly matter.


Winspear begins with a small case for Maisie to investigate, which leads to a much larger issue that has the potential to impact her benefactor. Yes, it’s a fluke, but, as the author writes, “Coincidence was a messenger sent by truth.”

The distinction between classes, as indicated through the use of cockney dialect, is distracting. Winspear could easily rely on her descriptive talents to show the differences. Nonetheless, I look forward to the next adventure of Maisie Dobbs – and looking for it as a masterpiece classic.

Maisie Dobbs
Four Bookmarks
Soho Press, 2003
292 pages


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