Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Publisher: Harpers, March 17, 2015
Genre: Historical Mystery
I’m not sure why I have never read any of the books in the Maisie Dobbs series before, but here I am with the eleventh book. Several of my reading friends have told me I really should give the books a try. I know starting at number eleven isn’t the normal way, but I figured, if I liked Maisie Dobbs in number eleven, A Dangerous Place, I’d have ten good novels to go back and read. So — here’s what A Dangerous Place is all about:
First, who is Maisie Dobbs?
“Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, began her working life at the age of thirteen as a servant in a Belgravia mansion, only to be discovered reading in the library by her employer, Lady Rowan Compton. Fearing dismissal, Maisie is shocked when she discovers that her thirst for education is to be supported by Lady Rowan and a family friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche. But The Great War intervenes in Maisie’s plans, and soon after commencement of her studies at Girton College, Cambridge, Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas. Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own business.” (from book description)
What’s happening in A Dangerous Place?
Maisie is traveling back home to England from India. She’s feeling reluctant about going home, so she gets off the boat in Gibraltar. While there she discovers the dead body of a photographer.
Maisie decides to investigate after the police say the murder was done by “refugees” looking for money. Maisie investigates very methodically as well as intuitively. She is also a friendly interviewer and, one at a time, people talk to her and she gathers all the clues she needs to solve this murder.
Time and place are important in this novel. This is 1937 and Europe is in flux and uncertainty. Gibraltar sits in a strategic place. From there one can see what’s happening in the Mediterranean countries and the North Africa, Germany and the civil war in Spain. Without giving away the last half of the story, I’ll only say that this proximity to the other countries does play a big part in the novel.
What did I think of the book?
The thing I enjoyed most about A Dangerous Place was all the people I met. The boardinghouse proprietor, the cafe owner, the women mending fish-nets, even the Scotland Yard guy were all so clear and well-developed. And — Maisie herself was charming, intelligent, kind to others, savvy, intuitive, and complicated. She could well become one of my favorite fictional characters.
Although this was the eleventh book, I didn’t feel lost. There was enough introduction to Maisie that I understood what has happened to her. The bottom line? I liked Maisie Dobbs. I know there are ten other books to read, but I think it will be well worth it. Actually, I have already purchased book number one, so off I go! I hope you’ll come with me.