Off the Shelf: A Look at Series of Excellent Mysteries

By Sharon Saye on October 23, 2019 from Off the Shelf via

Jacqueline Winspear has created a series of excellent mysteries revolving around an English woman in the decades between the two World Wars.  Maisie Dobbs starts her career as a maid for an aristocratic family when her family falls on hard times.  Her new mistress recognizes her intelligence and provides her with the means of an education.  One of her mentors is a resource for the British intelligence services and he teaches her how to observe and investigate.
After serving as a nurse during World War I, Maisie sets up her own investigative service and takes on all sorts of cases.  In a series of mysteries beginning with “Maisie Dobbs,” her life takes her throughout the world from success to tragedy.  The latest book, “The American Agent,” is set during the days of the Blitz.  Maisie and her best friend, Priscilla, are serving as ambulance drivers at night while Maisie gets dragged into the murder of an American reporter.
Catherine Saxon had spent the last night of her life observing Maisie and Priscilla’s ambulance experiences and then broadcasting them to America.  Maisie was impressed with her thoroughness and ambition to serve with Edward Murrow but is shocked when her body is found on the floor of her apartment.  Amid the Blitz, no one saw or heard anything, but since Catherine’s father was an American senator, both the British and American authorities are called in.  And both interestingly ask for Maisie’s help.  
The American government agent, Mark Scott, had worked with her in Germany only the year before, and although he saved her life, Maisie is suspicious of what he is hiding.  For Maisie who is trying to adopt a war orphan, and for Priscilla who is coping with a son who lost his arm at Dunkirk, conditions under the Blitz are a constant danger, and adding a murder investigation just makes things even more so.
“The American Agent” combines a mystery with a realistic portrayal of what life was like under constant warfare where virtually everyone you know, or meet is affected in small and large ways by the horrors they see every day.  


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