I have just finished reading A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel. It is the 11th book in the Maisie Dobbs series written by Jacqueline Winspear.
As I have said before, I like series books. The Maisie Dobbs books have been favorites of mine for many years. The first book, Maisie Dobbs was published in 2003. In looking at the author’s web site, there is an essay about Maisie’s origin.
“It seems as if it were only yesterday that a woman named Maisie Dobbs walked into my life—for that more or less sums up what happened as I was on my way to work, yet stuck in traffic during a typical California rainstorm. It was pouring! I was at a stop light with a sea of red taillights in front of me, and it seemed as if we commuters were destined to be there for days…
It was then that, in my mind’s eye, I saw a young woman in the garb of the late 1920’s, wearing a cloche hat and carrying a battered document case, come up out of the depths of Warren Street tube station in London—though in my daydream, instead of stepping on a steel escalator, she was on the old wooden clunkety-clunk escalator. She passed through the turnstile—no automatic machine—stopped to speak to a newspaper vendor outside, and then went on her way along Warren Street, where she stopped at a house, took out an envelope with two keys, and stepped into the gas-lit hallway. Her name was Maisie Dobbs. She was a psychologist and investigator, and at one time had been a nurse on the battlefields of WWI France. And—as readers later learn—she is as shell-shocked as any man who went to war.”
I find it fascinating how a character can spring fully formed into an author’s mind and that the story will grow from that moment. Obviously this story has moved from Maisie being a young girl at the start to being a woman in her 30s in the current book.
At the start of the current book, we find that Maisie has had a personal tragedy. She is supposed to be sailing back to England when she finds that she doesn’t feel that she can face the return to England. She gets off the ship in Gibraltar so that she can buy herself a little more time to mentally prepare for her return to England. She is warned that Gibraltar is a dangerous place due to fighting taking place in Spain. On one of her first nights she finds a body on the grounds of the hotel. She is told by the local police that the murderer was probably one of the influx of “broken ne’er-do-wells” that had been fleeing from Spain.
During the story, Maisie tries to find out what happened to Sebastian Babayoff, the murdered man. She is in a strange land where she has trouble deciding who is telling her the truth. She is also being watched and urged to go back to England where she will be safe.
If you are interested in period pieces (particularly the time between World War I and World War II, then these are the books for you. Also, if you like to see character development and follow characters over time, this is a great series for that. The books are not simple mysteries. I have found them very enjoyable.
Have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading.