Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: The Mapping of Love and Death

Summary: In the latest mystery in the New York Times bestselling series, Maisie Dobbs must unravel a case of wartime love and death—an investigation that leads her to a long-hidden affair between a young cartographer and a mysterious nurse.

August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael—the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman—puts duty first and sails for his father's native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action. 

April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael's parents, who have recently learned that their son's remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael's belongings—a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier's family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love. 

Following the critically acclaimed bestseller Among the Mad, The Mapping of Love and Death delivers the most gripping and satisfying chapter yet in the life of Maisie Dobbs. -- Harper

I'm in the home stretch of Book Club Girl's Mad for Maisie readalong! For those of you who don't know, I am attempting to read all eight of the Maisie Dobbs books in a little over two months. The latest Maisie book that I read (and enjoyed!) is THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH by Jacqueline Winspear. It's the seventh book in the series, and I can honestly say that Ms. Winspear has managed to entertain me in all of the books so far. I have no reason to think that the eighth book will be any different.

And that's one of the most striking things about this mystery series to me...I've pretty much loved each and every book. Of course, there are books that resonate with me a bit more or ones that have a more intriguing mystery, but overall, this series is outstanding! In THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH, Maisie once again finds herself investigating a very interesting war-related crime.

THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH tells the story of Michael Clifton, a young American who becomes a cartographer in World War I. When his remains are found eighteen years after his death, his parents seek Maisie's help to discover the unnamed nurse whose letters were found with Michael's belongings. Of course, it wouldn't be a Maisie story if the investigation didn't cause her to discover something about her personal life.

As much as I appreciated the mystery of this story (and there were a few surprises), I found the real beauty of THE MAPPING OF LOVE AND DEATH to be the parts about Maisie's personal life. Maisie has been through so much in her lifetime, and I've been desperately hoping for her to find some happiness and possibly even some romance. In this novel, Maisie discovers that she has some surprising feelings for an old acquaintance -- I can't say I was entirely surprised by this direction of the story. And I loved how her character continued to grow because of this relationship. Maisie realized that appearances can be deceiving and that people can change; and, while she should trust her instincts, she shouldn't judge a person prematurely.

However, it was Maisie's relationship with her mentor Maurice that really affected me deeply in this story. I was quite surprised to find myself crying as I read this novel, and I guess I realized how much these characters mean to me. I always knew that I loved these books, but I was didn't realize how vested I've become in their lives.

Once again, I was impressed with how Ms. Winspear managed to weave all of the storylines and themes together into this story. I so appreciated how she showed Maisie's character growth as well as her vulnerabilities when it came to a new relationship. Some of the themes that I found so interesting to think about include the continuing effects of war, depression, new beginnings/rebirth, grief, class structure, and parent/child relationships. In addition, I loved how Ms. Winspear continued the theme of dancing into this story!

As difficult as it is to review an entire series of books in a few short weeks, I have found that I have loved reading them all at once. I am truly Mad for Maisie and I'm almost saddened that I only have one more book to read! If you haven't given the Maisie books a try, you are certainly missing out on not only a wonderful mystery series, but also some interesting historical fiction and great character growth.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm impressed with your tenacity! It isn't easy to read a series like this back to back, then review them. I remember reading the entire Jack Reacher series one around a dozen of them. As much as I love him, it does get just a tiny bit old!

bermudaonion said...

You're doing a great job reviewing this books! Your reviews have made me want to read the series.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have not read a Maisie Dobbs book yet but after reading everyone's reviews on them have added them to my wish list. I agree with Sandy..very impressive that you are reading them back to back.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I know what you mean about being sad at the end of a series! I love reading them through like that, too, as you know from my Laura Lippman readathon!

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite book of the series so far!

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

I didn't mention Maurice in my review, but I agree, that made me cry!

Anonymous said...

I've only quick scanned your review because I still have a little bit to go in this one. I'm so sad it's almost over. I do hope she's working on another book.

Ruth said...

I have not read any of these, but I have the whole series now on my TBR list. Thanks for reviewing these!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I'm loving the Maisie books too! I'm getting a real sense of accomplishment by reading the entire series, and I've always loved history, so this is an extra bonus.

I have to say that I was surprised by James and Maisie getting together, but I do like how the author constantly introduces characters and then brings them back again at another time.

Seven down- one to go!