Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, is the creation of Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie, a graduate of Girton College, Cambridge—England’s first college for women—is intelligent, independent, and compassionate. An unusual private detective, she considers her work completed not when the truth is revealed, but rather when everyone connected with the case accepts the final outcome. For her own self-accounting, she then revisits all the places and people involved in the investigation to clear her mind and ready herself for her next case.
Maisie Dobbs, the first book in the series, is the winner of the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel, was nominated for the Edgar, and was selected New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Set in London in 1929, the book opens with Maisie’s first case. When a man suspects his wife of cheating on him, Maisie follows the woman to a cemetery where she uncovers a sinister plot involving a retreat for men unable to rejoin society after WWI.
A well-written, compelling read with wonderful side-plots and well-drawn, memorable supporting characters such as Maisie’s assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie Dobbs is part mystery, part life story. The middle of the book contains an extended flashback revealing how the daughter of a London costermonger—a man who sells fruit and vegetables from his horse-drawn cart—was able to climb the social ladder of the changing class-structure in post-WWI England to become a nurse working on the front lines in France, a graduate from Girton College and the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Legal Medicine, and eventually open her own detective agency.
Note: As of this post, there are nine books in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Each book contains a good deal of character development for Maisie, her assistant, Billy Beale, and other supporting characters. So while each book can be read as a standalone, it’s best if you read the books in order.