Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beyond Miss Maisie Dobbs

Recently I’ve found myself recommending Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series when someone is interested in historical mysteries. For those of you not familiar with these books, the story begins in 1910 when thirteen-year-old Maisie Dobbs enters service as a maid for Lady Rowan Compton. When she is discovered trying to learn Latin in the wee hours of the morning, she is taken under the wing of Lady Compton’s friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche, who becomes her tutor, mentor, and friend. The Great War begins while she is at university, which she leaves to become a nurse in France.

Without giving too much away, I can safely share that she eventually becomes a private investigator, and the plot of each novel addresses controversial social and political issues of her time.

I’m on the next-to-the-last book in the series, so what will I read when I’ve finished them all? I looked up Maisie Dobbs in our Novelist Plus database, and discovered there is a wealth of titles with similar literary appeals. The following is a list of series recommended by Novelist which are available through our catalog:
Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers
Reason: The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries and the Maisie Dobbs Novels are mysteries set in Great Britain between the World Wars. Both protagonists are strong women. The Maisie Dobbs Novels have a darker tone, but both have elegant writing and highlight the social class division in Great Britain.

Bess Crawford mysteries by Charles Todd
Reason: Bess Crawford and Maisie Dobbs were nurses in World War I. Maisie became a detective after the war, and Bess solves mysteries during it. Both series vividly portray Great Britain and feature strong, interesting characters, complex, gradually unfolding plots, and self-sufficient women.

Cordelia Gray mysteries by P.D. James
Reason: Both of these series feature young, independent female private investigators in Great Britain. They are very detailed, character-centered series that also share a slightly darker tone. While set in different periods, both women share a determination of spirit and a sense of justice.

Laetitia Talbot mysteries by Barbara Cleverly
Reason: Fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series will want to check out Barbara Cleverly's Laetitia Talbot novels, since both feature a 1920s setting and a plucky female detective as protagonist.

Molly Murphy mysteries by Rhys Bowen
Reason: The Molly Murphy and Maisie Dobbs historical mysteries feature feisty young women who become private detectives. The women are likeable and fight to be respected as professionals. These cozy stories paint a realistic historical picture of their time periods.

Flavia De Luce mysteries by Alan C. Bradley
Reason: Despite the age difference between these two sleuths, who investigate during different historical periods, readers who enjoy intelligent characters, well-depicted British settings, and strong, resourceful female protagonists may enjoy both the 11-year-old Flavia and the slightly older Maisie Dobbs.

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie King
Reason: These popular, historical mystery series based in England around WWI feature young women apprenticed to a Private Investigator; each learns their trade and grows emotionally as the series progress. Intelligent, resourceful, and talented, while they work with men, they do not play second fiddle to anyone. 

If you haven't used Novelist Plus, give it a try!  You never know what new protagonist you'll fall in love with!

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