Friday, May 28, 2010

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs Series, Book 7)

In the latest mystery in the New York Times bestselling series, Maisie Dobbs must unravel a case of wartime love and death—an investigation that leads her to a long-hidden affair between a young cartographer and a mysterious nurse.

August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael—the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman—puts duty first and sails for his father's native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action.

April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael's parents, who have recently learned that their son's remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael's belongings—a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier's family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love.

Following the critically acclaimed bestseller Among the Mad, The Mapping of Love and Death delivers the most gripping and satisfying chapter yet in the life of Maisie Dobbs.
This is the seventh book in the Maisie Dobbs series. I read the first book in the series in 2008 and then read the next five in 2009. When I do something like that it usually means that I really like a series, so I was looking forward to this latest book in the series. I really enjoy books set during the early part of the 20th-century and Winspear has done an excellent job writing a series that captures the history of the time. I really enjoy the setting, historical notes, and Maisie as a character. When I finish a book in the series I am always left satisfied and looking forward to the next one. This was no exception.

The best part of this series is that while the author comes up with new cases for every book that are engaging; you also learn more about Maisie and the other characters that make up her world. Maisie grows as a character throughout the series. She was fragile following WWI, so she needed a little bit of aid to develop into the strong character she is in this series. This novel shows another progression in her character. She has moved on in the romance department; which is something she has been hesitating in for a long time. I will be interested to see how this develops in future novels. This book also brings a conclusion to a relationship she has maintained for many years. I found it really sad, so that must mean that I am engaging with the characters by reading the series. I won't say anymore because I consider it a spoiler.

Generally I am not a fan of mystery novels, but I think this book works so well for me because the cases solved are not entirely what I take away from the book. Sure they play a central role in the stories, but looking back it is always Maisie's story and that of the other characters in the series that stick with me. As long as the detectives have depth and there is more to the book than just the mystery, I am finding that I like mystery series more than I originally thought. Plus, Maisie has a really interesting 'detective' style that is different from many of the other books on the market. Then, there is the fact that this is the period between the wars and she is a woman, so for her to be a success at all was pretty amazing for the time. Whether or not she is something that was possible for this period is hard to say, but Winspear makes it seem like it could happen.

Overall, this is another great edition to the Maisie Dobbs world. I look forward to book 8!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy to hear that this story holds up. It's one of my favorites.


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