Over the course of six novels, a growing number of readers have followed the adventures of Maisie Dobbs, a former nurse turned private investigator in 1930s England. The series’ strength lies in its portrayal of a society turned upside down after the huge losses suffered in World War I and the resulting changes in the class system and the lives of women, who had taken the place of men in the workplace during the war and often had to continue doing so afterwards. Recent installments had become somewhat routine, with little change coming to Maisie’s personal life or monastic Plimco flat—but this seventh outing brings a big payoff, without sacrificing the series’ quiet appeal.
The Mapping of Love and Death finds Maisie facing yet another mystery rooted in the Great War. The remains of Michael Clifton, an American cartographer who leant his skills to the British during the war, have been discovered in a bunker. X-rays show that the young man may not have died with his fellow soldiers when their camp was shelled, and his parents have come to Maisie for answers. Papers found near Michael’s body hint at a love affair with a woman who refers to herself simply as “The English Nurse.” Could she be the key to discovering why someone wanted to kill Michael? Maisie’s search will, as usual, take her back to her past, but this time the journey opens up new paths for the future as she embarks on an unexpected romance and meets with a turning point in her career.
As always, Maisie is an appealing heroine. Strong, intelligent, capable, empathetic—if a bit reserved—she faces threats without flinching and brings healing to her clients. Jacqueline Winspear’s assured writing (she is a Brit who currently lives in California) is as calm and measured as her heroine, and contains subtle touches that give the series its ring of period authenticityThe Mapping of Love and Death will leave Maisie’s many fans eager to see what her next adventure will bring.