Winspear, Jacqueline - 'The Mapping of Love and Death'
Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator living in London in the 1930s. She is an independent woman, with strong views, and an original way of approaching problems. Her associate, Billy, is concerned for his wife who is in a fragile state after losing their only daughter. She was committed when her grief stopped her being able to look after herself or her sons. After a period of time in the care of a sympathetic doctor, she is returning home.
Michael Clifton, an American with a British father, volunteered for the British army when war was declared. He was a cartographer and knew his skills would be needed. Many years after the war his remains are finally found in a dug-out. Amongst his possessions are letters from an English nurse. Maisie is asked by the family to help them track down this friend who their son cared for so deeply.
Shortly after the meeting, Mr and Mrs Clifton are attacked in their hotel and Maisie wonders whether the new investigation is the cause of the attack or whether it was just chance.
Billy tracks down the women that replied to the Clifton's newspaper appeal for the English nurse, while Maisie concentrates on finding officers and men that might have known and served with Michael in the war. The more Maisie discovers, the more she feels that certain elements in the army are covering up the facts. Then Maisie, herself, is attacked and realises that someone does not want information about Michael and his affairs coming to light.
I have read other books about Maisie Dobbs and like them very much. The setting of between the wars is interesting. The social, economic and political issues of the period have been well researched and enough details are given to add character to the story without it feeling like a history lesson. The story of individuals and the country struggling to recover from the losses resulting from World War 1 provide a colourful backdrop to the individual story of an American family. Maisie's background, upbringing and education are unusual but explain her character and originality.
Whenever I read a book about Maisie, I cannot wait to read the next.
Susan White, England