Buy Mysteries

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

I always know I will like a book if it grabs me in the first couple pages. Winspear’s new Maisie Dobbs Novel, “The Mapping of Love and Death” did just that.

The eventual murder victim buys land in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, one of my favorite locations in the world. The author, Jacqueline Winspear, lives in California, although she is British by birth. She obviously knows her locations well and describes them beautifully.

The rest of the book is set in London and locations in Kent outside of London, which are also favorite locations. The murder took place in a trench somewhere in France during World War I. The body has just been discovered in 1932 and the autopsy reveals suspicious circumstances. Private investigator, Maisie Dobbs, is hired by the victim’s parents to get to the bottom of what happened to their son during the war, and to try to locate a girl their son seemed to be romantically involved with during his R and R visits to Paris. The girl was apparently an English nurse during the War.

I enjoyed discovering the contents of the dead soldier’s diary along with Maisie and examining the clues that lead Ms. Dobbs to the English Nurse and to the murderer. The clues are not entirely obvious.

Entwined in the murder mystery is a growing love story between Maisie and her neighbor in Kent, James Compton, and Maisie’s long time friendship with her mentor, Maurice Blanche, who is dying. These stories help to soften and add human interest to the novel and help tie together the Maisie Dobbs series with ongoing characters involved in the heroine’s life.

One of the things that is maybe less believable about this plot is that Dobbs gets on so well with the local police detectives. Usually PIs are at odds with the local constabulary. It would appear that Dobb’s lengthy apprenticeship with Dr. Blanche predisposed the police detectives to want to work with Dobbs. It will be interesting to see if that cooperative relationship continues following Dr. Blanche’s death.

I look forward to going back to earlier Maisie Dobbs mysteries and to reading the next one from Winspear.

Liz Nichols

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