I have never really been much of a mystery reader - I'm not really sure why, just haven't been drawn to them in the past. But I have been reading some wonderful recommendations in the blogging world for various mysteries and in particular Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. I have been reading a little differently this year, trying different genres and styles of books I have previously avoided or just simply not gotten to - so I have decided to give the mystery novel a go.
I love reading books set in England - particularly around the times of WW1 and WW2 - so in that regard Maisie Dobbs was a great choice for me.
Maisie is a woman who started life as a member of the working class, she began working as a maid for Lady Rowan Compton and her family in the early 1900's. Her natural instincts for reading and learning drew her to the attention of her employer in another way and Maisie began to be mentored by Dr Maurice Blanche, with the support of Lady Rowan, in the ways of the intellectual world. Maisie eventually won herself a place at Cambridge University but this was interrupted by the arrival of WW1 where Maisie went to serve as a nurse in France.
The book starts in 1929 where Maisie is beginning to set up her own personal investigation business and it sweeps back and forth between 1929 and the past where we learn of Maisie's introduction to the world of investigation and her involvement and personal losses in WW1.
I did enjoy reading this book, and I will continue to read the others in the series, but I did have some problems with the plot development (which I thought was pretty predictable and simplistic) and Maisie herself.
Things just seemed to jump into place in terms of the plot - people were where they needed to be when they needed to be, people were conveniently met when they needed to be met etc... I found this a little contrived but I was able to see past it to still enjoy the story.
As for Maisie, she did annoy me at times! I was trying to work out what it was when Maisie herself seemed to describe the reason for me:
She knew she was out of bounds. But this was not new for her. She spent much of her life out of bounds, living and speaking where, according to some, she had no business.
This is normally a trait that would endear me to a character, particularly a female one, I love to read about strong female characters, but for some reason I found Maisie overbearing and bossy at times - particularly with her clients who she felt it was quite ok to order around!
I realise I am probably being a little harsh - and I need to place the character in the context of her times.
I also struggled with Maurice - jumping into Maisie's mind constantly with his little philosophical mantras!
But for all of these complaints I did enjoy the story - the setting in particular. So, I will give Maisie Dobbs another go but would also love to hear of any other suggestions for mystery books as I feel a little addicted now!