Through it all [Maisie] has solved sometimes harrowing cases with a mixture of intelligence, intuition, determination and compassion that makes her — and it’s an odd compliment, I know — one of the most soothing characters in crime fiction. Reading a Maisie Dobbs book is a little like spending time with an old friend you don’t see often enough, if your old friend’s gig is tracking down and capturing criminals ... [Winspear] researches each novel so carefully that the series could almost serve as a history of the United Kingdom in the first half of the 20th century.
Winspear’s desire to keep a steady stream of drama coming has in recent years been rough for resourceful Maisie, who has lost a mentor, a husband, a friend and a child in the past few books. But caring for another person seems to be sending Maisie in a direction that’s more fulfilling for her and satisfying for fans of this heartfelt series.
Jacqueline Winspear’s latest novel is romantic and emotionally intense in several different ways, as Maisie grapples with her unexpected role as mother, as well as a sudden shift in her friendship with Priscilla. It also offers an intense portrayal of how ordinary British residents attempted to manage their ordinary lives amid extraordinary and traumatic circumstances. Maisie solves the crime (naturally), but just as compelling is her own personal journey, which leaves her poised to begin yet another new chapter of her eventful life.
Dobbs’ hunt for the killer, aided by the dashing agent of the book’s title, is a lesson in English gentility; Winspear also offers an intriguing view of the WWII propaganda machine that sought to convince Americans to join the fray. The historical descriptions are sometimes stiff, as when characters discuss at length conditions that the other party in the conversation would already know about, but, overall, this is an immersive tale of wartime grit and grief. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed; the book can also cross over to historical-mystery buffs and devotees of British detective shows.
A tale of triumph over tragedy, it is sure to please the author’s many fans. While the mystery portion might work fine as a standalone, the book is definitely best read in sequence with the rest of the series since there is a prodigious amount of background information pertaining to Maisie’s personal life the reader would benefit from knowing before jumping in ... Like any long running series, the Maisie Dobbs lexicon contains great books, good books, bad books and everything in between. The American Agent definitely falls into the ‘good’ category for me. When the novel concentrates on the mystery, it is excellent...The author also, as always, perfectly captures her time period...The personal portion of this tale, however, kept the tale from DIK status ... may not be the strongest book in the series, but it is far from the worst and the whole saga altogether is deeply enjoyable. Fans of historical mysteries should absolutely read the Maisie Dobbs books.