It’s 1930s London, and sleuth Maisie Dobbs is coping with painful personal woes while tracking a devious multiple murderer.
A year after hanging out her shingle as a private investigator (Maisie Dobbs, 2003), Maisie is relieved to have a thriving business in new and nicer quarters. Still, memories and flashbacks of her heroic days as a WWI nurse frequently interrupt her current pursuits even as war veteran Billy Beale, Maisie’s hard-working assistant, puts a brave face on the persistent pain he still suffers from a battle injury. When London is gripped by the unsolved murder of a young woman in Coulsdon, Maisie verbally spars over the case with courtly Inspector Stratton, who displays both professional and romantic interest in her. Meanwhile, she’s hired by wealthy Joseph Waite to find Charlotte, his missing daughter, with whom he’s had a stormy relationship. Sensing unhappiness in clues left behind by the young woman of her own age, Maisie feels a special affinity for her. The search gains urgency when Charlotte’s friend Lydia Fisher is found murdered and both women are tied to the Coulsdon case. And there are further unwelcome complications. The drugs Billy takes for his pain lead to erratic behavior that concerns both Maisie and his devoted wife Doreen and makes him a suspect in Miss Fisher’s murder. And the sudden death of Maisie’s vigorous father further tests her mettle and endangers the investigation.
A standard-issue mystery enhanced by elegant prose and a strong period flavor.