Maisie Dobbs was part of my early effort to read lighter fare in order to forget the pandemic (I read this back at the end of March) and it was more or less successful. Over all I liked the book and the main character and I’ll definitely read the next in the series. Though I admit the pacing of this first book is a bit off which happens frequently when you’re dealing with the initial book in the series. Setting the stage and giving the character’s backstory don’t always blend well with the store and that’s the case here unfortunately.
When we begin the story we meet Maisie Dobbs in London 1929. It is the first day of her new business as a private detective after studying under a famed Scotland Yard investigator. Maisie’s first case seems like a simple case of marital infidelity but, as things tend to go, turns out to be something completely different. We also learn about Maisie’s humble beginnings as the daughter of a widowed vegetable peddler who goes to work in service to a wealthy family. The lady of the house soon sees Maisie’s natural intelligence and curiosity and agrees to sponsor her education. She enlists as a nurse in the Great War upon graduating college and it’s the traumatic memories of this that are brought back up by Maisie’s first case. Naturally she solves not just the alleged infidelity but also the greater and more sinister mystery related to it and even manages to make a bit of peace with her troubled past.
This book sits on the border between cozy and dark and brooding. Maisie is smart, determined and plucky but she, like the rest of the country are also still reckoning with the ghosts of a horrific war. Anyone who’s taken a deep dive into World War I can assure you the bits of it covered in the first installment of Maisie Dobbs don’t even begin to scratch the surface. But the book never lets itself get too bogged down in the suffering. Here’s hoping book two doesn’t suffer from the same pacing issues as book one.