Anymore, It's not often that I fall in love with a new mystery character. I'm pretty addicted to Golden Age mysteries, so I'm not even one that loves to delve into newer offerings. There are just so many vintage books out there, patiently waiting for me to read them, I'm not sure I have the time to devote to the new kids on the block. As a book blogger though, it's bound to happen that I'm offered a book or series to review, one that the synopsis sounds too good to pass up, and I bite. That happened with the first Maisie Dobbs book that I read, The Mapping of Love and Death, and now nine books later, I'm hopelessly devoted to her.
I dare anyone to read one of these books, and not fall in love with Maisie. I'm not sure there is anyone like her, though she would definitely fit in with a lot of the great detectives of mystery fiction. She has a way of looking at the world that allows her to see things that many would miss. There is a gentleness behind her keen mind and fierce determination, that allows everyone around her to instantly trust her, to confide in her. She has solved murders, resolved missing person cases, assisted the government in spy cases, and availed herself of those who needed her. She has a sense of justice that has been tempered by her time as a war nurse, personal loss of those close to her, and an inherit sense of right and wrong. But she also knows when the truth is really going to benefit those that can be greatly hurt by it, and when it's best to let the past rest where it's at.
She comes from humble beginnings, put into service at a young age, it was through the generosity of her employers that her intelligence was not only discovered, but allowed to develop to it's full potential. She was nurtured and taught, but because of that, she doesn't feel as if she really has a normal place in society. During a time when class distinctions were still pretty rigid, she doesn't really belong in the life she came from, but doesn't feel comfortable in her new life, at least not in the way she should. Because of that, she has few people who are truly close to her. She doesn't seem to trust herself, or those around her, to really accept her. It's a strange thing to read, someone who is so adapt at reading others in her professional life, but not really able to trust herself enough in her personal life.
It affects her love life in ways I can't even get into right now. Just when I think she is truly allowing herself to be happy, to fully accept love, she starts to pull back into herself. I guess it's that insecurity and lack of personal self confidence, that keeps her from becoming a stereotypical detecting savant. She never becomes complacent in her abilities, or overly confident in her strengths. She doesn't develop the ego that Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot does, patting themselves on the back all the time.
I can't wait to see how she continues to develop and grow. I'm always hoping that her personal and professional lives will balance out, and become just a bit more in sync with each other. But even if she never reaches that balancing point, I'll be there, happily lapping up whatever adventures Jacqueline Winspear can dream up.