‘Maisie Dobbs’ is a novel by Jacqueline Winspear that follows the titular character as she sets up as a private investigator in the late 1920s and who must face her past when her first case takes a surprising turn.
The novel is divided up into three parts. The first part is setting up the novel, with Maisie receiving her first case. The second is set in the past, telling Maisie’s story as she grows up and takes up her role in the war. The third, and last part, returns to the present and the resolution of the case.
Personally, I found the book to be very slow. I nearly gave up halfway through the first section. While Maisie was interesting as a character, there was too much setting up. I also felt like I entered the book in the wrong frame of mind. While described as a crime fiction, there is very little crime. The case Maisie takes on is solved in the first hundred pages, with the second mystery just following on from her curiosity. As a crime reader, I enjoy trying to piece together clues and guessing what the final resolution here. There was not much opportunity for that in this novel.
That being said, the novel is very well-written. I really enjoyed the second part, which focuses on Maisie and the events, and people, who have made her who she is. I felt I got to know her a bit better and so was able to get more engrossed in the novel. I also felt the third part was really good, with the mystery being stepped up a notch and having a suspenseful, climactic event.
I did enjoy this book, although I do feel it was a bit lacking. It is very much character-focused and, while I usually enjoy books that are centred on the characters, I felt the plot could have been more gripping and intriguing, especially at the beginning.