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Publisher's Summary

The debut of one of literature's favorite sleuths! Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence - and the patronage of her benevolent employers - she works her way into college at Cambridge. After the War I and her service as a nurse, Maisie hangs out her shingle back at home: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS.

But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

©2003 Jacqueline Winspear; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,623
  • 4 Stars
    1,285
  • 3 Stars
    612
  • 2 Stars
    159
  • 1 Stars
    90

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,627
  • 4 Stars
    913
  • 3 Stars
    348
  • 2 Stars
    73
  • 1 Stars
    49

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    1,363
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
    119
  • 1 Stars
    59
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  • Overall

Can't put her books down

Wow, what a command of that era, and what an impact it had on women from England and the world. As a writer she threads her story lines and characters together, and these characters are interwoven across her books. She does not leave loose ends, she has developed a brilliant, intuitive and yet fragile detective. This series deserves the following it has and I can't wait for her newest books to come out. I would recommend starting with the first and working forward in order.

61 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A delightful discovery

I am so glad I found this series! An intelligent, young woman, former nurse-turned-sleuth in post WWI London was a both a setting and story I enjoyed immensely. After reading this, I went on to read the next 2 in the series and after reading those, have added the next to to my "to read" list. If you're looking for graphic, gruesome murders, CIA car chases and graphic sex in your mysteries, this series probably won't work for you. If you enjoy early 1930's England with a sanely-paced story line and exploring characters as they develop over several books, you should enjoy this.

95 of 97 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A new addiction

Save me, I have found a new addiction and its Maisie Dobbs!! A friend recommended this series and after this first book I am hooked. It's wonderful to have a mystery series that is not too explicit as some of my old standby's have become over the years,and doesnt leave you with nightmares. Ms. Winspear's writing is creative and engaging without resorting to gore. Love the narrator. LOVE Maisie!

57 of 59 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Great Beginning to an Exceptional Series

I first ecountered "Maisie Dobbs" in 2003 the year it was published. It was the first book I became aware of in the growing sub-genre of detective fiction which I call the "Post World War One Period," when the War is recently ended and the population of Britain is still reeling. Many wounded soldiers, whether physically maimed or crippled or psychologically damaged, cannot re-integrate into society and there is little or no assistance available to them from the government. Many are on the streets begging, looking for work if they can work, and are in the depths of despair.

Having read a number of Post WWI books now, I rank Maisie Dobbs and the subsequent books in the series as the best of the genre. The primary reason for this ranking is the sensitivity, compassion and understanding displayed by Maisie toward these wounded men and and their families and loved ones.

In this first book, we meet Maisie Dobbs, private inquiry agent, in 1929 and learn about her youth as the child of a costermonger (vegetable seller) who must go into service when her mother dies, her education sponsored by her kindly employer, and her training with her mentor, Maurice Blanche, in investigation and psychic matters. But the most important influence on Maisie is her experience as a battlefield nurse in the Great War, sharing the fear and agony with the soldiers she cares for, and finally being seriously wounded herself. These experiences make her able to understand the wounded and damaged men she encounters.

As she establishes her office, she acquires an assistant, Billy Beal, who walks with a limp resulting from severe shrapnel wounds. Her first major investigation involves what she judges to be the suspicious deaths of severely disfigured veterans at a shelter called the Retreat.

Maisie Dobbs is (or was at the time this book came out) unique in my experience because of her combination of compassion and psychic abilities in solving puzzles and mysteries. The writing of Jacqueline Winspear is excellent, and some scenes are very moving. The narration by Rita Barrington is adequate but not exceptional. However, the story itself more than makes up for that, so that the overall rating is 5 stars.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great series, shakey start

If you've already read other books in this series, skip this first one. It's all backstory, all esential elements of which are repeated, in bits and pieces, in subsequent books. Actually, this book isn't really a "mystery" at all -- its a flat-out novel. There's nothing much to ferret out, no suspense worthy of the word, but it is an introduction to the excellent character of Maisie Dobbs. The series is wonderful, and very carefully researched so as to be historically accurate. The narrator does a great job on all of them -- I love the series, just not this first book.

84 of 88 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Entertaining

Very well written. Gives you a good perspective about WW1 and the impact it had on lives. Great characters. I will definately buy another.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Hope it gets better

I'll probably read at least one more in this series, but by the time I was nearly through with this one, I have to admit I was just going through the motions of listening. The characters are fairly interesting, but everything is just too pat and predictable. Maisie is astonishingly bright and bizarrely lucky and strangely intuitive, and honestly, that gets old after a while. I just don't believe that someone from her class would've been able to rise quite as far without more trouble in England in the early part of the 20th century. The writing was at times pretty dreadful, too. Too much description and too repetitive. A jarring backwards jump in the middle of everything to explain Maisie's life was simply odd and went on too long. By the time the author got back to the main story, I was bored.

Despite my problems with the book, I am intrigued by Maisie and some of those around her. I hope the author develops the characters more. They're all, including Maisie, pretty one dimensional here. To her credit, the author does provide a harrowing and realistic look at World War I and its toll.

The narrator was good. I will keep trying with this series.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Historical fiction WW1 era

I have been busy reading books (fiction and non-fiction) about the WW1 era. A friend of mine suggested this series by Jacqueline Winspear. Unfortunately I started with the newer books in the series and have read backwards, this book is the first of the series. It did fill in a few of the missing items not filled in by the series to date. I must say, I have found the series to be fascinating, this is the time in history that women's role made a complete change and this change had a major effect on society. The other books in the series was read by Orlagh Cassidy who I preferred to the reader of this book Rita Barrington. It may be that I was used to Cassidy's voice. Whoever did the singing in the book did a great job. This book starts with the time not long after WW1 when Maisie first opens her investigation business with flash backs to her youth, her working in service in the Lord's household to her time as student at Groton College to her being a nurse in the war. Winspear handled the flashback in an excellent manner. The book laid the foundation for the series. Looking forward to more books in the series.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Grab This Series!

Start at the beginning and listen to them all! I have both read and listened to all the Maisie Dobbs books and have enjoyed every one. All the narrators are quite good, tho the excellent Orlagh Cassidy seems to have emerged as the standard bearer in the later books of the series. If you like historical "cozy" mysteries at all, you will like these! The wonderful ongoing characters send you happily on into each new addition. I must say that these books started an interest in WWI for me and led me to read more nonfiction. Yay, education! Long Live Maisie!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Masie Dobbs

This is one of the more enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It is fun to read an occasional mystery that is not filled with blood and gore althought there are references to World War I severely wounded soldiers. It helps that I love the genre and the time period the mystery took place in.

The pleasure of this audio is greatly is greatly enhanced by the talented narrator Rita Barrington who guides us through this novel with great skill.

I look forward to reading the entire series.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful