Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A delightful mystery! Much like The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency, though, it's not a typical mystery. It's more an exploration of life, with gentle philosophic observations, all told while a protagonist (again, a single woman) carries out her duties as a private investigator. And, like Mma Ramotswe, Maisie Dobbs likes to truly help those who come seeking her professional services.
Yet, despite the similarities to that series, this is not a copy, nor even an homage. This book (and, I hope, the series) stands on its own, with its own style and flavor. It is set in England, before during and after WWI. We see the upheaval in class lines that took place during that timeframe, embodied in Maisie's own rise from parlor maid to college-educated professional.
The story is told with real affection for the characters, as well as the time and place. While many of the events that take place are horrific, the writing is so tender that it makes it all quite readable. (The violence of these events is not described, but left to the reader's imagination. This does not lessen their impact, at all.)
I must say, that if you are a fan of Downton Abbey, then you will probably enjoy this book, as it covers much of the same time and place. I certainly enjoyed it enough that I just ordered the next in the series!