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The first thing is the way Maisie Dobbs came to me; I always refer to it as my moment of artistic grace. I didn’t sit down and think I want to write a novel and I would like it to be this and here is how I am going to create this character and these sub-characters. I was driving along, stopped at a traffic light and went in one of those dreams we all go into at such times and literally saw Maisie Dobbs come out of Warren Street Station, talk to the newspaper vendor and walk off down the street. I saw the whole first chapter, by which time there was a car honking behind me. But it was one of those moments of grace when within a very short time I knew the story. I won’t say she came to me fully formed but it was as if she revealed herself to me as I was working on the book and of course drawing upon my own interests. I have always been really curious about World War 1 and I really like reading about that period of time between say about 1910 right up until 1945; you know art nouveau, art deco, love all that.

    -INTERVIEW: with Jacqueline Winspear (Ayo Onatade, Shots Ezine)
Former servant, former battlefield nurse, now private investigator and psychologist, Maisie Dobbs wears more than her share of hats and is haunted by a number of ghosts. Now in this latest entry in her mystery series it turns out she also has gypsy blood. The plot thickens and thickens some more.

The story here involves a series of robberies and fires in a Kentish village during hop-picking season in 1931. Both Londoners and a band of Romany are in for the harvest and the villagers--already tense because of a mysterious zeppelin raid during the war--are none to happy. Dobbs has to navigate these troubled waters while seeking to determine whether a former employer ought to buy the local manor. Meanwhile, her fiancee, who received a head wound in France and never regained speech nor awareness, is finally dying and her sidekick, who hasn't recovered from the loss of a young child, wants to move to Canada.

Dobbs is a pleasant enough guide to post-WWI England and Ms Winspear conveys a strong sense of a nation spiritually exhausted by that conflict. But for one thing, there's just too much going on, which often shunts the investigation to the side. And, given that a number of the plot twists are hardly shocking, Dobbs's business seems to inordinately affect her powers of detection. In future outings, less might offer more.


Grade: (C+)


See also:

Private Eyes
Jacqueline Winspear Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Jacqueline Winspear, author of The Maisie Dobbs Mystery Series
    -AUTHOR BLOG: Red Room
    -INTERVIEW: with Jacqueline Winspear (Ayo Onatade, Shots Ezine)
    -INTERVIEW: with Jacqueline Winspear (Carol Fitzgerald and Shannon McKenna, August 12, 2005,
    -INTERVIEW: An interview with Jacqueline Winspear, creator of Maisie Dobbs mysteries (Connie Ogle, McClatchy Newspapers)
    -REVIEW of Masie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW of Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW of Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW of Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW of An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of An Incomplete Revenge (Carrie Uffindell,

Book-related and General Links: