Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review Friday: Leaving Everything Most Loved

Jaqueline Winspear’s 10th Maisie Dobbs mystery, Leaving Everything Most Loved, may be one of her best. 

In this outing the housemaid turned war nurse turned psychologist and private investigator is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate a murder.  The victim was an Indian woman named Usha Pramal who was shot to death some months before.  The case was not a priority for the Yard so it fell through the cracks until Pramal’s brother arrived from India to make inquiries.  Still unable, or unwilling, to put valuable men on the case, Detective Inspector Caldwell turns the investigation over to Maisie.  As Maisie digs deeper into Usha’s life she learns much about the spirited, determined woman and her homeland of India.  Maisie explores the Indian subculture that has developed in London, uncovering both racism and tolerance in the people she encounters.  On a personal note Maisie is toying with the idea of following in her mentor Maurice Blanche’s footsteps and traveling the world, while her lover, James Compton, is urging her to travel with him to Canada, marry, and settle down.   In addition, Maisie is worried about her assistant Billy Beale, who has never fully recovered from the beating he took on their last major case.  And her father calls with an unsettling announcement of his own. 

Winspear weaves all these threads into a cohesive whole, exploring the clash of cultures, the lingering effects of war, and the value of love as Maisie plots points on the case map that will lead her to a killer.

I've been in love with Maisie from the very first book, though I wasn't as sure about the last two books, this one really reached me.  This book seemed more finished, more cohesive, less rushed, and various story lines worked together leaving me satisfied with the ending.  And anxiously anticipating the next installment in Maisie's adventures.

For readers who like Winspears' Maisie Dobbs and want to know what to read next try these ...

Strong female characters in the throes of or the aftermath of WWI:

     The Bess Crawford Series by Charles Todd, start with A Duty to the Dead
     The Daisy Dalrymple Series by Carola Dunn, start with Death at Wentwater Court
     The Phryne Fisher Series by Kerry Greenwood, start with Cocaine Blues aka Death by Misadventure
     The Mary Russell Series by Laurie R. King, start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Male leads in the aftermath of WWI
     The Ian Rutledge Series by Charles Todd, start with A Test of Wills
     The Lord Peter Wimsey Series by Dorothy L. Sayers, start with Whose Body?

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