Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs

byJacqueline Winspear

Paperback | June 3, 2014

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"A female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander."
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air, on Maisie Dobbs


Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education.
 
The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found—and lost—an important part of herself. Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.
 
In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of New York Times bestsellers Among the Mad and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as eight other Maisie Dobbs novels. Originally from Kent, England, she now lives in California. This is her first book in the critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling Maisie Dobbs series.
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Title:Maisie DobbsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.47 × 5.02 × 0.86 inPublished:June 3, 2014Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616954078

ISBN - 13:9781616954079

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wished I liked it more Wanted to love this book, just couldn't. Dragged at times. Would recommend to those who like slow (very slow) character development.
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute little beach read This is an odd little book. The main character is obnoxiously perfect, her relationships are nearly obnoxiously perfect, she solves the mystery in an obnoxiously saccharine way... And I could go on. But somehow, it's cute. While I don't particularly care about her, I find myself caring about the peripheral characters while enjoying the inherent charm of a story that takes places during days gone by. This book is great for someone looking for a lighthearted, war-era mystery (well, as lighthearted as a war-era novel can be) that doesn't take itself seriously.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting! I found this first book in the series very interesting and entertaining, and it made me want to read more in the series.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging, immersive page-turner This is the first in the Maisie Dobbs series and includes her origin story. Excellent writing, character development, and story (the aftermath of war). The engaging story is set after WW1 London and Kent with flashbacks to her experience as a nurse on the battlefield.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Exciting Beginning... I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a Nancy Drew novel, but with a historical background - set immediately following the First World War - but with a more adult nature and darker undertones. Yes, the story relies on many of the conventional tropes of a "girl detective" novel, however I found it to be an interesting read in that genre. I can't wait to pick up the rest of the series so far!
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Start! Some of the best sit back, relax and solve a mystery type of books I have read. They keep getting better.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Maisie Dobbs I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to reading her next one
Date published: 2014-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed immensely I enjoyed this book immensely. There were vignettes in the book which powerfully conveyed the horror of WWI. While I understand another reviewer's point about the thin plot, I enjoyed the writing and was truly interested in what happened to the characters.
Date published: 2014-05-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Tissue paper mystery Maize tissue paper armor described late in the book, describes how thin I felt the story was. I do not recommend
Date published: 2014-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eight Bookcases Check out my review of Winspear's work on my blog at: http://8bookcases.blogspot.ca/2012/07/maisie-dobbs-by-jacqueline-winspear.html
Date published: 2012-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Beginning - Looking forward to the next installment! As a fan of pre/post war mysteries set in England I decided to give this series a chance. It took a few chapters to get the feel of the book but I was soon hooked on the story line and the lives of the characters. Maisie is hired to find out if the wife of Mr. Davenham is truly faithful to her wedding vows and stumbles into a second mystery which takes her back to her time serving as a VAD nurse during the Great War. It is during this mystery that we learn the heartbreaking story of Maisie and Simon. Maisie is not your typical detective. She solves mysteries in such a way that leaves the lives of those involved better for knowing the truth. Not all parts of Maisie's past are revealed in this first novel. I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Date published: 2011-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Woman of the Times I first heard of Maisie Dobbs about 3 years ago & my interest was peaked, but forgot the name of both the book & the author. Every so often I would think about this book & rack my brains to remember. Well, a few weeks ago the Sunday NY Times Book Review had an ad for the new Maisie Dobbs book. I ran to my computer, right to the Chapters/Indigo website, found all of her books (some on the discount list) and ordered all. I finally got around to picking up the first Jacqueline Winspear book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, and I am totally hooked. First of all, Jaqueline Winspear writes with a lovely lyrical style that transports you to Maisie Dobbs world. Second, as an avid reader of all genres of books, Maisie Dobbs has such a presence. Closer to Mrs. Marple in her astute reading of people she encounters than today's Kinsey Milhone, etc. ,Once in her mind, you feel the emotions that she absorbs from the people she meets. I have read many books that centre around World War I and the healing period just after the war and few have let me feel what it was like for those, not soldiers, but still there on the front. Especially from the standpoint of a woman. I can't wait to read the rest!
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! I absolutely loved this book. The main character, Maisie Dobbs, is completely different from any other mystery I've read. Her methods are totally unique and there is so much compassion for her clients. It is fascinating and the setting, in the aftermath of World War I is an interesting time period for a career woman. Maisie's personal story is very unusual and her relationships and accomplishments even more so. This is a character you will not forget.
Date published: 2009-08-09

Read from the Book

SPRING 1929CHAPTER ONEEven if she hadn’t been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle. She had what his old mother would have called “bearing.” A way of walking, with her shoulders back and head held high, as she pulled on her black gloves while managing to hold on to a somewhat battered black document case.        “Old money,” muttered Jack to himself. “Stuck-up piece of nonsense.”       Jack expected the woman to pass him by, so he stamped his feet in a vain attempt to banish the sharp needles of cold creeping up through his hobnailed boots. He fanned a half dozen copies of the Daily Express over one arm, anticipating a taxi-cab screeching to a halt and a hand reaching out with the requisite coins.        “Oh, stop—may I have an Express please, love?” appealed a voice as smooth as spooned treacle.       The newspaper vendor looked up slowly, straight into eyes the color of midnight in summer, an intense shade that seemed to him to be darker than blue. She held out her money.       “O’ course, miss, ’ere you are. Bit nippy this morning, innit?”       She smiled, and as she took the paper from him before turning to walk away, she replied, “Not half. It’s brass monkey weather; better get yourself a nice cuppa before too long.”       Jack couldn’t have told you why he watched the woman walk all the way down Warren Street toward Fitzroy Square. But he did know one thing: She might have bearing, but from the familiar way she spoke to him, she certainly wasn’t from old money.       At the end of Warren Street, Maisie Dobbs stopped in front of the black front door of a somewhat rundown Georgian terraced house, tucked the Daily Express under her left arm, carefully opened her document case, and took out an envelope containing a letter from her landlord and two keys. The letter instructed her to give the outside door a good shove after turning the key in the lock, to light the gas lamp at the base of the stairs carefully, to mind the top step of the first flight of stairs—which needed to be looked at—and to remember to lock her own door before leaving in the evening. Theletter also told her that Billy Beale, the caretaker, would put up her nameplate on the outside door if she liked or, it suggested, perhaps she would prefer to remain anonymous.       Maisie grinned. I need the business, she said to herself. I’m not here to remain anonymous.       Maisie suspected that Mr. Sharp, the landlord, was unlikely to live up to his name, and that he would pose questions with obvious answers each time they met. However, his directions were apt: The door did indeed need a shove, but the gas lamp, once lit, hardly dented the musky darkness of the stairwell. Clearly there were some things that needed to be changed, but all in good time. For the moment Maisie had work to do, even if she had no actual cases to work on.       Minding the top step, Maisie turned right on the landing and headed straight for the brown painted door on the left, the one with a frosted glass window and a To Let sign hanging from the doorknob. She removed the sign, put the key into the lock, opened the door, and took a deep breath before stepping into her new office. It was a single room with a gas fire, a gas lamp on each wall, and one sash window with a view of the building across the street and the rooftops beyond. There was an oak desk with a matching chair of dubious stability, and an old filing cabinet to the right of the window.        Lady Rowan Compton, her patron and former employer, had been correct; Warren Street wasn’t a particularly salubrious area. But if she played her cards right, Maisie could afford the rent and have some money left over from the sum she had allowed herself to take from her savings. She didn’t want a fancy office, but she didn’t want an out-and-out dump either. No, she wanted something in the middle, something for everyone, something central, but then again not in the thick of things. Maisie felt a certain comfort in this small corner of Bloomsbury. They said that you could sit down to tea with just about anyone around Fitzroy Square, and dine with a countess and a carpenter at the same table, with both of them at ease in the company. Yes, Warren Street would be good for now. The tricky thing was going to be the nameplate. She still hadn’t solved the problem of the nameplate.       As Lady Rowan had asked, “So, my dear, what will you call yourself? I mean, we all know what you do, but what will be your trade name? You can hardly state the obvious. ‘Finds missing people, dead or alive, even when it’s themselves they are looking for’ really doesn’t cut the mustard. We have to think of something succinct, something that draws upon your unique talents.”       “I was thinking of ‘Discreet Investigations,’ Lady Rowan. What do you think?”       “But that doesn’t tell anyone about how you use your mind, my dear—what you actually do.”       “It’s not really my mind I’m using, it’s other people’s. I just ask the questions.”       “Poppycock! What about ‘Discreet Cerebral Investigations’?”       Maisie smiled at Lady Rowan, raising an eyebrow in mock dismay at the older woman’s suggestion. She was at ease, seated in front of the fireplace in her former employer’s library, a fireplace she had once cleaned with the raw, housework-roughened hands of a maid in service.       “No, I’m not a brain surgeon. I’m going to think about it for a bit, Lady Rowan. I want to get it right.”       The gray-haired aristocrat leaned over and patted Maisie on the knee. “I’m sure that whatever you choose, you will do very well, my dear. Very well indeed.”       So it was that when Billy Beale, the caretaker, knocked on the door one week after Maisie moved into the Warren Street office, asking if there was a nameplate to put up at the front door, Maisie handed him a brass plate bearing the words “M. Dobbs. Trade and Personal Investigations.”       “Where do you want it, miss? Left of the door or right of the door?”       He turned his head very slightly to one side as he addressed her. Billy was about thirty years old, just under six feet tall, muscular and strong, with hair the color of sun-burnished wheat. He seemed agile, but worked hard to disguise a limp that Maisie had noticed immediately.       “Where are the other names situated?”       “On the left, miss, but I wouldn’t put it there if I were you.”       “Oh, and why not, Mr. Beale?”       “Billy. You can call me Billy. Well, people don’t really look to the left, do they? Not when they’re using the doorknob, which is on the right. That’s where the eyes immediately go when they walk up them steps, first to that lion’s ’ead door knocker, then to the knob, which is on the right. Best ’ave the plate on the right. That’s if you want their business.”        “Well, Mr. Beale, let’s have the plate on the right. Thank you.”       “Billy, miss. You can call me Billy.”       Billy Beale went to fit the brass nameplate. Maisie sighed deeply and rubbed her neck at the place where worry always sat when it was making itself at home.       “Miss . . .”       Billy poked his head around the door, tentatively knocking at the glass as he removed his flat cap.       “What is it, Mr. Beale?”       “Billy, miss. Miss, can I have a quick word?”       “Yes, come in. What is it?”       “Miss, I wonder if I might ask a question? Personal, like.” Billy continued without waiting for an answer. “Was you a nurse? At a casualty clearing station? Outside of Bailleul?”       Maisie felt a strong stab of emotion, and instinctively put her right hand to her chest, but her demeanor and words were calm.       “Yes. Yes, I was.”       “I knew it!” said Billy, slapping his cap across his knee. “I just knew it the minute I saw those eyes. That’s all I remember, after they brought me in. Them eyes of yours, miss. Doctor said to concentrate on looking at something while ’e worked on me leg. So I looked at your eyes, miss. You and ’im saved my leg. Full of shrapnel, but you did it, didn’t you? What was ’is name?”       For a moment, Maisie’s throat was paralyzed. Then she swallowed hard. “Simon Lynch. Captain Simon Lynch. That must be who you mean.”       “I never forgot you, miss. Never. Saved my life, you did.”       Maisie nodded, endeavoring to keep her memories relegated to the place she had assigned them in her heart, to be taken out only when she allowed.       “Well, miss. Anything you ever want doing, you just ’oller. I’m your man. Stroke of luck, meeting up with you again, innit? Wait till I tell the missus. You want anything done, you call me. Anything.”       “Thank you. Thank you very much. I’ll holler if I need anything. Oh, and Mr. . . . Billy, thank you for taking care of the sign.”       Billy Beale blushed and nodded, covered his burnished hair with his cap, and left the office.       Lucky, thought Maisie. Except for the war, I’ve had a lucky life so far. She sat down on the dubious oak chair, slipped off her shoes and rubbed at her feet. Feet that still felt the cold and wet and filth and blood of France. Feet that hadn’t felt warm in twelve years, since 1917.       She remembered Simon, in another life, it seemed now, sitting under a tree on the South Downs in Sussex. They had been on leave at the same time, not a miracle of  course, but difficult to arrange, unless you had connections where connections counted. It was a warm day, but not one that took them entirely away from the fighting, for they could still hear the deep echo of battlefield cannonade from the other side of the English Channel, a menacing sound not diminished by the intervening expanse of land and sea. Maisie had complained then that the damp of France would never leave her, and Simon, smiling, had pulled off her walking shoes to rub warmth into her feet.       “Goodness, woman, how can anyone be that cold and not be dead?”       They both laughed, and then fell silent. Death, in such times, was not a laughing matter.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Maisie DobbsA favorite mystery series of Hillary Clinton (as mentioned in What Happened, The New York Times Book Review, and New York Magazine)A New York Times Notable Book of the Year Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel Macavity Award Winner for Best First Novel Alex Award Winner“Compelling…powerful. [Maisie Dobbs] testifies to the enduring allure of the traditional mystery…even though I knew what was coming this second time 'round, its final scene is still a punch in the gut.” —Maureen Corrigan for NPR’s Fresh Air"[A] deft debut novel . . . Romantic readers sensing a story-within-a-story won't be disappointed. But first they must be prepared to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment." —The New York Times"The reader familiar with Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency . . . might think of Maisie Dobbs as its British counterpart . . . [Winspear] has created a winning character about whom readers will want to read more."—The Associated Press"[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman."—Chicago Tribune"One of the best and most influential crime novels of the young century." —Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine “A fine new sleuth for the twenty-first century. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget.”—Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley series “The book is much more than a cosy mystery—it is also about women's growing emancipation and the profound changes to society after the First World War.”—Mail on Sunday “A delightful mix of mystery, war story and romance set in WWI–era England . . . A refreshing heroine, appealing secondary characters and an absorbing plot [make Winspear a] writer to watch.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review   “A poignant and compelling story . . . [Winspear handles] human drama with compassionate sensitivity while skillfully avoiding cloying sentimentality. At the end, the reader is left yearning for more. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal, Starred Review