Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan

My reviews of the first three books in the series: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies.

When Nick, an up-and-coming young artist, falls to his death while setting up a gallery for his much buzzed exhibition, the police are quick to rule it an accident and to rule his sister Georgiana, who believes that Nick was murdered, a meddlesome pain. Georgiana is not content to merely accept either of these rulings, however, and enlists the help of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, to prove that Nick’s death was no accident. In investigating the case, Maisie finds herself pulled into the world of art and wealthy art collectors, watching people spend obscene amounts of money on paintings while her assistant cannot even find the money to take his very sick little girl to the doctor. At the same time, Maisie finds herself pulling farther and farther away from her beau, Dr. Andrew Dene.

There has been a lot of upheaval in Maisie’s life over the course of the books three and four. First she breaks away from her mentor Maurice, then from her boyfriend Andrew. Both rifts are based partly in Maisie’s need to establish her own independence, but I cannot help but wonder if her new problems with Maurice contributed to her problems with Andrew, as he was a mentee of Maurice’s as well. Although at times all of this made me very frustrated on Maisie’s behalf, these difficulties about what it means to be an independent working woman in the 1930s help truly bring Winspear’s setting and characters to life.

This mystery was a little more obvious and less compelling than the others I have read so far, but the book was still very engaging overall, and we got a glimpse of Maisie actually acting as a therapist for some clients, which was surprising and will possibly offer some interesting plot points in the future. Considering this is the 4th book in this series I have read since the beginning of the year and I am still excited to read the next one, I am continuing to recommend this series.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound |Amazon*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan
Book 3 in the Maisie Dobbs series.

My reviews of the first two books in the series: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather

One of the defining characteristics of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs is the setting between World War I and World War II. In the first two books particularly, the Great War and its ramifications are hugely important to the story, crucial to the plot, even. Now, in Pardonable Lies, Maisie is forced to confront her time in France, in the war while trying to find out whether a lost aviator truly died in the war and trying to track down the true fate of the brother of her best friend, Priscilla.

More than ever in the past two books, Maisie is intensely vulnerable in Pardonable Lies. She has to face her demons head on, and has a crisis of confidence in some of the most foundational aspects of her life. At the same time, she is being challenged by Priscilla to become more her own person, defined not entirely by her work.

This is a good continuation to the series. I liked that Winspear changed the scenery by taking Maisie to France, it helped keep the series fresh. After three books, I still recommend the series.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Penguin
Book 2 in the Maisie Dobbs series

My review of the first book in the series: Maisie Dobbs

At the opening of Birds of a Feather, Maisie is becoming pretty well established in her business. She has even been contacted by Joseph Waite, one of the richest men in England and a one-time client of her mentor, Maurice. Waite’s daughter has gone missing – again – and as Maisie begins to investigate, she discovers that there may be a connection to a series of dead women.

Birds of a Feather is precisely the book I was hoping for after Maisie Dobbs. In this second book in the series, Maisie truly comes into her own, and the reader is finally able to address her on her own terms, instead of dwelling extensively on her past through the copious backstory that comprised Maisie Dobbs. Here the reader gets to follow Maisie through a full and well-developed case. She has a great process and watching her work a case is fascinating.

I also appreciated that Maisie continued to develop as a character in Birds of a Feather. Since the action rested primarily in the present, Maisie was able to indulge in some introspection without losing the reader.

Based on my experience with the first two books, I think I would classify the Maisie Dobbs series as smart cozies. Not that other cozies aren’t smart, but there is an extra intelligence and class to Maisie Dobbs that makes the series particularly enjoyable. The great development of story and character, along with the somewhat more genteel inter-war time period make this a series that is suitable for and could appeal to a wide range of readers.

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Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Penguin Books
Book 1 in the series

What do you get when you take one very bright housemaid in early 20th century England, educate her within an inch of her life, and give her some Sherlock Holmes-style training in solving crimes? Why Maisie Dobbs, of course!

Respectful and polite, Maisie is very much a product of her time. Winspear balances very well the line of having an independent heroine who is not overly modern. We begin the book with Maisie setting up shop with her own agency, but the majority of action in this first book in the series is actually comprised of backstory, ranging from the time she first began to work for Lady Rowan Compton, to her time at university, finally to her time as a nurse during World War I.

I must say, there was a bit too much backstory for me. I would have preferred to either start the series when Maisie was just 13 or 14 and gaining employment, or to have the backstory spread out over more books. Particularly because the backstory in which I was most interested – that of her apprenticeship with her mentor Maurice Blanche – was not covered in this book.

Still, Maisie was an engaging and charming character. I have every intention of continuing the series, I just hope that the next books have more action in Maisie’s present.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.