Like many mysteries of a similar ilk, the Maisie Dobbs series is an undemanding but engaging read that is just what is called for at times. Those of us that read mysteries all seem to have our favorite series whether we follow Maisie or Flavia or Mary Russell, or any of a host of others, but also all seem to have strong feelings about our choices, not tending to read randomly here and there but waiting for the next installment of our favorites with great fidelity.
The Maisie Dobbs books are obviously very popular, and many were happy to finally lay claim to a copy of the new A Lesson in Secrets this week. But one often mentioned reason why people do not care for the stories that much is the very reason I do like them - Maisie's character is so tightly drawn, so even-keeled that she appears unnatural to some readers, something that I believe is deliberate as Maisie has been rendered incapable of fully expressing herself by her experiences in the first world war. And in The Mapping of Love and Death, the juxtaposition of Maisie's unintentional reserve and the open and engaging nature of the deceased whose killer she is tracking struck me as the best note yet in the series.
As always, it is difficult to write about a mystery without betraying too much, but in this seventh installment of the series, Maisie is investigating the suspicious death of an American cartographer serving with the English during the war. His remains have just been unearthed, and papers and a journal with the body have brought his wealthy American parents to Maisie as they seek the woman from his recovered love letters and other answers as well.
Winspear always offers a satisfactory conclusion, but never shies away from the bittersweet, and this installment is no different than the others. But there is much to hope for amidst the less than perfect. Enough to send me for the new book as well.