Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mystery Novels Post #1

I've been reading some AMAZING mystery novels lately (well, reading and listening to). They are the Maisie Dobbs books by Jaqueline Winspear and the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Both are innovative historically based series with outstanding female protagonists.

I'll start first with Miss Maisie Dobbs, one of my new favorite heroines of all time! These books are set in post-WWI England around 1930-31. That may seem like a long time after the "Great War" but these books illuminate how long-lasting the effects of war can be. Maisie Dobbs is a product of the changing social ideals of the 1900s-1930s, born to a poor London family and entering "service" as a maid at age 11. Her employer quickly notices her intelligence and curiosity and engages a tutor for her which changes her future options immensely, as you can imagine. When WWI breaks out in Europe, England becomes a different world full of propoganda, broken families, and major social changes as young men leave their service or menial labor jobs to become soldiers and women are able to rise from scullary maids to welders or workers in munition factories. Maisie starts at Oxford partway through the war but soon enlists as a nurse and is sent to France. I won't give away any more of her background because the unfolding of details throughout all the books, especially Maisie Dobbs, the first book in the series, are a major player in the mysteries. After the war Maisie studies pyschology and investigation under her old tutor and when the book begins, she is just starting up her own psychology and private investigation office in London.

Where is the mystery, you may be asking? Maisie is hired by all sorts of interesting characters for investigations which seep into the realm of psychology. Maisie approaches her client's problems with psychological inquiry in addition to regular detective work and often discovers the root of the solution is embedded in the war, even a decade after its conclusion. On the back of one book, a critic remarked that her mysteries are more "why-done-it"s rather than "who-done-it"s, which is a very accurate description of her stories. The characters are always rich and multi-layered which makes you just want to read the next book as soon as you are done with one.

I recently read that short blog posts are better so I will leave Amelia Peabody to a later post. Besides, I'm at work waiting for our network scheduling system to be fixed so we can actually do work....

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Blogger Love Kpop said...

I am looking for my memories through the stories, the narrative of people. I feel it is difficult but I will try.

February 7, 2018 at 7:56 PM  

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