Synopses & Reviews
Maisie entered domestic service in 1910 at the age of thirteen, to work as a maid at the Belgravia mansion of Lady Rowan Compton. When her remarkable intelligence and innate love of learning are discovered by her employer, Maisie becomes the pupil of Maurice Blanche, a learned friend of the Comptons who is often retained by Europe's elite, and the police, to conduct discreet investigations.
Eventually, Maisie enters Girton College at Cambridge University, but the escalation of World War I intervenes to change her plans. She serves as a nurse at the front and falls in love with a handsome young doctor, only to lose him.
In 1929, following an apprenticeship assisting Blanche iin his work, Maissie hangs out her shingle: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS. She soon becomes enmeshed in a mystery suurrounding The Retreat, a reclusive community of veterans wounded in body and spirit. At first, Maisie only suspects foul play, but she must act quickly when Lady Rowan's son decides to sign away his fortune and take refuge at The Retreat. A coincidence? Maisie has learned that coincidences can lead to the truth, and hurriedly investigates The Retreat. She uncovers a disturbing mystery at its core which in an astonishing denouemment, gives Maisie the courage to confront the ghost that has haunted her for over ten years.
"[A] deft debut novel... Romantic readers sensing a story-within-a-story won’t be disappointed. But first they must be prepared to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment." —The New York Times
"The reader familiar with Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency... might think of Maisie Dobbs as its British counterpart.... Winspear, who intends to write a series featuring Maisie Dobbs, has created a winning character about whom readers will want to read more." —The Associated Press
"[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman." —The Chicago Tribune
"Winspear rarely attempts to elevate her prose past the common romance, and what might have been a journey through a strata of England between the wars is instead just simple, convenient and contrived. Prime candidate for a TV movie." Kirkus Reviews
"[An] inspired debut novel, a delightful mix of mystery, war story and romance set in WWI-era England...Winspear [is] a new writer to watch." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Deft...Prepare to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment...Winspear takes her through her ordeal with great compassion." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"From its dedication to the author's paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother...to its powerful conclusion, this is a poignant and compelling story....Winspear writes in simple, effective prose...handling human drama with compassionate sensitivity while skillfully avoiding cloying sentimentality. At the end, the reader is left yearning for more....Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Laurence Bartram is a young widower grappling not only with the loss of his young wife and infant son but also with a return to normalcy after his service in World War I when he receives a letter from Mary Emmett, the sister of a boyhood friend, asking him to look into her brothers supposed suicide. He is as intrigued by Mary herself as he is by her letter, and his investigations uncover a series of crimes and help Laurence confront his own horrendous memories of the war. An absorbing mystery set in postwar London, Spellers literary debut is brimming with historical details of the period and doesnt shy away from wars atrocities. There are many references to British writers and poets that the average American reader may not be familiar with, and the myriad names of officers and soldiers may be confusing. VERDICT World War I history buffs will enjoy this mystery, as will fans of period pieces set in London. Readers who like Jacqueline Winspears Maisie Dobbs series will enjoy this as well." [Previewed in M.M. Adjarians genre spotlight, "Dispatches from the Edge,"
"Meet Maisie Dobbs, who in 1929 launches her career as a private investigator and finds herself drawn back to the Great War she thought she'd long since put behind her: an unexpected beginning for Maisie--and a rare treat for mystery fans."--Charles Dodd, "A Fearsome Doubt."
Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks 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. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. 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.
London, 1920. In the aftermath of the Great War and a devastating family tragedy, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame manages to draw him back in. Mary Emmetts brother John—like Laurence, an officer during the war—has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans hospital, and Mary needs to know why.
Aided by his friend Charles—a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels—Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmetts regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmetts death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his own war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
At once a compelling mystery and an elegant literary debut, The Return of Captain John Emmett blends the psychological depth of Pat Barkers Regeneration trilogy with lively storytelling from the golden age of British crime fiction.
Damaged but not broken by his service in the Great War, and living a solitary widower's life in a London attic, accidental detective Laurence Bartram looks into the suspicious death of an old friend and discovers much more than he wishes to.
About the Author
This is the first novel by Jacqueline Winspear, who was born and raised in England. After a career in publishing there, she and her husband settled in California in 1990.