Merrimon Book Reviews

Theodolite, 1920

French trench during WWI, 1917

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Mapping of Love and Death
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
by Jacqueline Winspear

Pivotal Maisie Dobbs Mystery!

In 1914, Michael Clifton maps the land he just bought in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. Convinced that he will find oil on the land, he looks forward to someday proving himself to his family. When war breaks out, however, Michael feels compelled to answer the call of duty. Although he now lives in America, his family resides in England. Michael never makes it back to the land of his dreams. A few years later, he is listed as missing in action. In 1934, Michael's family called upon Maisie Dobbs to investigate when their son's body is discovered. They want her to find the wartime nurse who wrote love letters to their son but whose cryptic signatures left her identity a mystery. Examination of his remains leave many questions. Could Michael have been murdered in the trenches or was his death just one ore war casualty in a war that left many young men forever gone?

As a former WWI nurse, Maisie Dobbs has much to add to the case at hand. Not only does she have have the knowledge of wartime conditions but she also has contacts within the nursing world. Maisie Dobbs, however, is more than the typical private investigator who examines the physical evidence. She brings to her cases a more holistic and caring approach learned from her nursing and mentor, an approach that examines the psychological dimensions as well as the body. In THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH, Maisie Dobbs brings a sense of healing to her clients with the closure of the case as the family receives the answers they need to understand the past and live their present lives more fully despite the loss of her son. As Michael Clifton mapped the terrain, Maisie Dobbs maps the emotional terrain of the human spirit. THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH expands on the themes of loss and new turning points in several ways, making this mystery rich in fictional texture. As with past Maisie Dobbs mysteries, long time fans like this reader will appreciate all the psychological and literary dimensions that make Jacqueline Winspear's mysteries so unique.

THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH is much more than a mystery, more than a work of historical fiction. Indeed THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH is a perfect choice less for the genre purist but rather for the reader who wants a little bit of everything --- the puzzle of a mystery, the insights into the past, psychological or some sense of spiritual depth all bound together with a bit of the richness of literary fiction that makes a novel stand up beyond the plot. THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH is a wonderful pleasure read for the reader looking for something different and richer than one's typical fare. This was the original reason why I began reading Maisie Dobbs mysteries years ago, and today with this new release, I found the same kind of reading delight multiplied with a little twist.

THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH marks a turning point in Maisie Dobbs life with promises of exciting future directions ahead. Not only is the case a turning point for Michael Clifton's family, allowing them to move forward from the past, but Maisie Dobbs faces a turning point in her life. Her mentor Maurice Blanche's ill health looms in the background just as on the world stage, the timeline of WWII appears on the horizon. This long time Maisie Dobbs fan is eagerly looking forward to future directions in subsequent Maisie Dobbs novels!

Publisher:  Harper (March 23, 2010)
A Maisie Dobbs Mystery
Author website

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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