Monday, March 12, 2012
The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear
Published February 2011 by HarperCollins Publishing
Source: the copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours
Well, this is embarrassing! As you may have noticed from the icon on my sidebar, March is Maisie Month and in honor of that bloggers on the tour for the latest Maisie Dobbs novel, Elegy for Eddie, aren't reading just that novel but one or more of the previous eight Maisie novels. I committed to two, the new one and the seventh, The Mapping of Love and Death. And then I promptly wrote down the wrong dates for the reviews of each book. So this weekend I was happily reading Elegy for Eddie in preparation for my review of it today. Oops - for some reason late yesterday I finally actually looked at the tour information and realized I had read the books out of order. I promptly switched books and I'm about half way through The Mapping of Love and Death this morning. I'll be finishing the book today and will have my full review up this evening.
In The Mapping of Love and Death, private investigator Maisie Dobbs has been hired to investigate a mystery involving an American cartographer killed during World War I. Wealthy son of British ex-patriot Edward Clifton, Michael Clifton has only just bought some land in California with the certainty that oil will be found there when Britain announces war with Germany. Feeling a duty to his father's homeland, Michael immediately leaves for England leaving behind the truth behind his land purchase.
Sixteen years after he went missing, his body has been discovered, along with some letters from a woman who his parents would like Maisie to find.But there is more to the story that even his mother isn't aware of; Michael's father is convinced that Michael was murdered. When Maisie's clients are brutally assaulted in their hotel room, Maisie's investigation takes on a much greater sense of urgency.
Jacqueline Winspear fills her Maisie Dobbs books with a wonderful supporting cast including her devoted father, her beloved mentor, her employee, Billy, and her best friend Priscilla. Clearly these characters have developed throughout the series but Winspear does a fine job of giving the reader enough information to get up to speed with the relationships but doesn't burden readers with background that could take away from the story line.
I'm sure these mysteries fall into the "cozy" mystery genre but I feel like there is more depth to the Maisie books that I typically find in so-called cozy mysteries. These characters carry a lot of very palpable pain. But Winspear doesn't let her stories get bogged down in that pain or the mystery, bringing plenty of humor to the books as well. I was also impressed with the way Winspear managed to keep the investigative portion of the book moving forward while retaining the real life stories of the characters. There is also much to be learned about the time period, and in this case cartography, without getting weighed down in her research.
I'm sorry to have started so late in the series. I'll definitely pick up the next book but I'm not sure I can go back to the beginning knowing so much already about what will happen to the characters. I will, however, be looking forward to the tenth book!