Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

All ready to get deep into a historical mystery, I picked up Maisie Dobbs by author Jacqueline Winspear. And in a strange turn of events, after getting more than 200 pages through it, I can’t say I ever got a good grasp on it.

Maybe it’s because my expectations were indeed built up to read a mystery, but the book has relatively little of that. The book cover and the initial dive into the case and investigation are essentially a smoke screen, suggesting something that only takes up a few pages of the novel before the story goes in an altogether different direction. And that different direction, for maybe more than half the novel, is the (back)story of Maisie, a coming-of-age and wartime tale that doesn’t seem to have much to do with the mystery—whatever the mystery is, which must pick up somewhere in the final third of the book.

As for the coming-of-age and wartime tale, it gave me mild enjoyment and an emotional tug or two, but I often found it to be slow, cursory, and predictable, with nothing that really stood out to me. With only about 70 more pages to go (dense pages with rather tiny type), I just ran out of steam. Hence, whatever the real mystery is in this book, for me it shall remain a mystery.

But I do like Maisie: a smart, compassionate, discerning woman who maybe could use a compelling flaw or two to make her character more interesting, but at least she isn’t syrupy or hyper-angelic. So while I didn’t finish this book, I do plan on trying at least one more in the series. With the extended introduction of Maisie’s character and background taken care of in this first novel, perhaps a following one will be heavier on the mystery side.

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Maisie Dobbs Series