enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Jacqueline Winspear, Masie Dobbs

I read this book about 6-Apr-2015. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2003. This note was last modified Saturday, 16-Apr-2016 22:00:21 PDT.

This is book 1 of the "Masie Dobbs" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Historical myster set around WWI, with female sleuth.

It's told somewhat disjointedly in time. Maisie gets put into service when her mother dies, but ends up in the house of a social reformer. She works her way up to the point of admission to Cambridge before the war starts (with the help of the mysterious Dr. Maurice Blanche).

With the war on, though, she quits to become a nurse, and actually gets sent up to the frontmost aid stations in the end. She's very successful there, and falls in love with a doctor; but there are indications she has a premonition they won't make it through the war, and in fact they're both blown up, him worse (though not killed). She drops him after that, too.

Her mentor, Maurice Blanche, is not explained. He seems to be a high-level private investigator (before such things quite existed), working for the government sometimes, but we have no idea where his expertise or clientele come from. His teaching of Maisie includes figuring out what other people are feeling by mimicing their posture, which strikes me as absurd. I guess he's supposed to be a psychological expert, and Maisie at the end is setting up her offices as a "psychologist and investigator". Also, they manage to somehow do all this without once mentioning the name of Sigmund Freud.

There are moments of quite affecting writing here, mostly dealing with the horrors of the war and the damage it did to people (other than simply killing them), and a nice relationship with her father (and his horse), but other times the writing seems to get kind of sloppy, and I don't like the worldbuilding much. (Well, what should I call a historical novelists decisions about what to show and tell about their historical period?)


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David Dyer-Bennet