three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
user_rating: 
0

A-The Mapping of Love and Death.epsBritish mystery writer Jacqueline Winspear introduced Maisie Dobbs, a tough-minded detective in post–World War I London, in the award-winning Maisie Dobbs (2003). This is the seventh in the series.

The Story: When the body of Michael Clifton, an American cartographer declared missing in action during battle in 1916, is uncovered by a French farmer in the Somme Valley in 1932, authorities determine that Michael died from a blow to the head instead of heavy German artillery. Michael's parents arrive in London, and a mutual friend enlists private investigator and former World War I field nurse Maisie Dobbs to track down a mysterious woman whose love letters were found with Michael's belongings. Soon the Cliftons are savagely attacked in their hotel room, an old friend of Michael's turns up dead, and Maisie faces a dangerous adversary who will do anything to keep the past buried.
Harper. 352 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780061727665

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Always the thorough researcher, Winspear surpasses herself in this absorbing novel by giving Maisie an exacting assignment: learning the skills cartographers bring into battle and then discovering why someone would want to kill one of them." Marilyn Stasio

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"... her creator brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. The real pleasure is Winspear's insights into human beings and history." Deirdre Donahue

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Winspear's new novel about a kind ‘psychologist and investigator' in ‘30s Britain spends as much energy on Dobbs and her circle of friends as it does on the mystery she solves, but doesn't suffer for doing so. ... While engaging enough, this book's mystery plot doesn't rise to the intensity of its predecessor, Among the Mad, a gripping tale of terrorism and mental illness." Jim Higgins

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries will not be to everyone's taste, especially those who like their violence up-close, personal, and bruising. ... This is the mystery novel as an exercise in form, character, and atmosphere." Frank Wilson

Washington Times 3 of 5 Stars
" It is a pity that the author's austere style of writing makes even her characters' conversations stilted." Muriel Dobbin

Critical Summary

Compared to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers in both style and tone, Winspear has crafted yet another fascinating installment to her best-selling series, combining a clever assessment of the social, cultural, and economic turmoil of 1930s Europe with a tidy and entertaining mystery. However, Winspear's melancholy voice, vivid descriptions of Depression-era London, and war-haunted characters add just the right amount of gloom to keep modern readers turning the pages. Winspear focuses nearly as much on Maisie's personal life and social circle as she does on the mounting body count, but most critics thought that the momentum and suspense don't suffer as a result. Though the Washington Times carped about Winspear's prose style, Maisie's followers will delight in her new adventure.

First in the Series

A-Maisie Dobbs.epsMaisie Dobbs (2003): Maisie's first assignment seems to be a routine case of marital infidelity. But appearances are deceiving, and her investigation leads her into the darkest recesses of postwar London.