Maisie Dobbs, star of a now six-book series, is more than just a plucky heroine and farsighted feminist in turn-of-the-century England; she is a great mixture of a kind heart and an incisive intelligence.
This is the second book in the series. Maisie's private investigator business in London has picked up steam, thanks to her unimpeachable reputation and astute insights. She is more than a private eye, however; she is also a psychologist who tries to heal aggrieved parties and lost souls. She uses techniques of meditation and immersion taught to her by her mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche. Maisie is extraordinary in another way: She has worked her way "upstairs" from being a maid in Lady Rowan's household to being the protégé of Lady Rowan, who has educated and helped Maisie.
It is this amalgamation of characteristics that makes Jacqueline Winspear's series so engaging and charming. Winspear writes with tenderness about the era, even as she shines a light on the injustices and atrocities of the post-World War I world.
A young woman has disappeared and her father wants her back. He hires Maisie to bring her back. Now. His brusque manner is off-putting. It is not clear whether Joseph Waite is looking for Charlotte Waite because she is his daughter or his possession. In her search for Charlotte, Maisie stumbles across the mysterious deaths of other young women. Winspear never embraces the cliché. You, the reader, may think you know what's going on, but you haven't a clue. The resolution is touching and it is hard to determine who the real villain is.