Jacqueline Winspear •
Maisie Dobbs •
Oh boy, are you going to love this series. Winspear has created a heartful, deeply intuitive detective in the unlikely person of Maisie Dobbs, costermonger’s daughter and former in-between maid. The setting is London following the Great War, and reverberations from that conflict touch every aspect of daily life.
What fascinates me most about these books, apart from the superb writing, is watching how Maisie works. When she wants an insight into someone’s character, she mimics that person’s posture, producing in her own body the same feelings and responses. In the home of a murder victim, she imagines what it would be like to live in that place, surrounded by those possessions, belonging to that family, looking out on that view.
Confronted with a deeply distressed female client, Maisie deftly steers her to a counter of Liberty silks, where the rich colors and fine fabrics will bring the woman solace. How does she know this? Simple: from the way her client is dressed. In fact, she’s pulling a Sherlock Holmes, but from a woman’s perspective. It’s not the tobacco ash or the footprint that tips Maisie off in a case, but the flower garden, the winter muff, the plaques in a store commemorating wartime deaths of employees.
There are eight Maisie Dobbs novels as of this writing, and I hope for many more to come.