Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lady gumshoes are coming out of the woodwork (Jacqueline Winspear)

From San Jose Mercury News --

Lady gumshoes are coming out of the woodwork --

By Roberta Alexander --
Times contributor --
Posted: 03/08/2009 12:01:00 AM PST --

"An Incomplete Revenge" by Jacqueline Winspear. (Picador, $14, 324 pages). --

"Among the Mad" by Jacqueline Winspear. (Henry Holt, $25, 320 pages) --

Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, plies her trade in England in the years after World War I. Everyone has been marked by the conflict, from villages who lost most of their young men to scarred veterans to ex-nurse Maisie herself, whose lover was left a mute shell of a man.

In "Revenge," Maisie goes into a village in Kent at the behest of a developer interested in buying a local brickworks and finds problems she didn't foresee. The residents appear traumatized, and there are tensions with both the London crew and Gypsy band that have come for the annual hops picking.

The owner of the brickworks, who fancies himself lord of the manor, is clearly not liked, but is that relevant to the other problems?

In "Mad," Maisie witnesses a public suicide, which the police believe is part of a larger plot. She works uneasily with them to seek someone with a dreadful grudge.

Both stories are complex, but Maisie, strong and smart but damaged, is worth the effort.

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