In the aftermath of a massive global trauma, how can a nation—and its stunned human beings—rebuild? With this thoughtful probing series, Jacqueline Winspear explores the recovery of Britain in the years after World War I through the eyes of Maisie Dobbs. Maisie is the emblem of a new social era—a former scullery maid who becomes a VAD nurse, then loses her sweetheart in battle, only to transform, once again, into the owner of a detective agency. While she forges a path as an independent woman during peacetime, she find herself surrounded by clients, trying to understand and accept the pain they and their fathers, brothers or husbands endured in the trenches—from the family who sends her to investigate the disappearance of their son in France, to an artist's seeming suicide.
In the most recent installment, Elegy for Eddie, Maisie investigates the death of her childhood friend, a case that takes her deep into a burgeoning but still underground movement of politicians and writers whose beliefs she agrees with, but whose methods terrify her. Here, as in all the books, it's Maisie's extraordinary empathy that strikes a chord. Like any typical PI, Maisie is preternaturally acute and given to noticing tiny details, but it's her compassion that allows her to illuminate some of the most pressing and staggeringly painful issues of her day, delivering unexpected answers and sense of peace to her clients—and her readers. —Nathalie Gorman