Monday, March 28, 2011

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

Synopsis From Back Cover:

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.

I read a lot of mysteries.  Actually, I read more mysteries than I do anything else anymore.  This is the first mystery, and this will sound strange, that made me feel at peace.   Now I know that's not a normal feeling to have when reading a book about murder, but that's the way Jacqueline Winspear made me feel.

There is a gentleness, even when dealing with violence and murder, about her writing that I found intriguing and refreshing.  Most mysteries have a frantic, hard pounding pace and tone that while it keeps you on the edge of your seat, it's exhausting.  It's like eating an entire large meat lovers pizza.  You're full and content but feel heavy and lethargic.  This book though was like eating the lightest piece of cherry cheesecake.  They both leave you feeling full, content, and happy as can be.  You feel like you can skip through a field of heather, laughing and feeling as joyous as can be.  Now I know I'm laying it on a little thick, but I can't help it.

Now that I'm done telling you how the book made me feel, let me add a few words about what I thought of the book and it's storyline, the mystery.   When I agreed to review the book I wasn't aware that it was the 7th book in a series.  I had never heard of it or the star of the series, Maisie Dobbs.  After reading this one, I feel like I've been missing out on something grand (okay, that was more about what the book made me feel, but I'm getting there).

Maisie is a thinker.  She does her leg work, but she uses her brain way more.  I can see her having tea with Jane Marple and the two of them solving a case without ever leaving the house.  That kind of intellect is a nice change of pace to more physical type of detective I've been reading a lot of lately.  The fact that she is vulnerable and not as sure of herself when it comes to love, makes her all the more interesting. 

The mystery and the search for the missing nurse take some twists and turns involving more than Maisie was initially gambling on but the solution is well thought out and almost elegant in it's simplicity.  The author didn't go for the "shock and awe" of a outcome that came out of the blue.  Instead she chose to go with an ending that is slowly hinted at throughout the book and even though I saw it coming, I was still wrapped up in the story until the last page.

I know this review was a little rambling and a little too sugary but I think I can live with that.  This will be a series that I know go back and enjoy from the beginning.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book.  If you would like to read more opinions on this one, please visit the tour page.

Challenges: M&S


bermudaonion said...

Wow, skipping through a field of heather? I can tell you loved this one! I really want to try the Maisie Dobbs series.

Ryan said...

Kathy, I know I laid it on a bit thick but I really did feel a sense of quiet when I was reading this book. Not something that happens normally during a mystery.

Yvette said...

I read the first two books in this series and then, I don't know why, forgot about it. I have to go back and read the rest of the books, no question. Time has just gotten away from me, I think. Thanks for the reminder, Ryan.

Ryan said...

Yvette, You are more than welcome and I'll be looking forward to your reviews of them.

Staci said...

I have the first one in this series Ryan and your review has made me really want to dig it out and jump in....I loved your sugary review!! :D

Ryan said...

Staci, Thank you. After reading the review over I thought I should take some of that out of it. But I decided to leave it in anyway. I'll be anxious to read your review of the first book.

Anonymous said...

"They both leave you feeling full, content, and happy as can be." Now that certainly sounds like a treat! I don't read a lot of mysteries but I've been wanted to try out this series - I'm thinking I'll really like it.