Series Love: Maisie Dobbs

covers for Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear

The Basics

The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is one I frequently recommend to historical mystery fans, or to those who might become historical mystery fans with the slightest nudge. Maisie is a private investigator who has started her own agency in 1929 London.

As the series continues, she sometimes finds herself assisting the police, and developing a working relationship with other governmental agencies.

Why I Love Maisie

Maisie’s background is unusual – she was a nurse in the war, then studied psychology before being mentored by a well-regarded investigator. While she began life in service, she has connections in high places, and it all combines to allow for varying plot lines that provide a more interesting reading experience.

As you get to know Maisie, you also know the people in her life – family, friends, colleagues. Many of these secondary characters end up becoming significant figures in the books, and because of how the books continue through time you can really follow along with their lives.

The post-World War I setting is appealing, and I appreciate how Winspear allows time to pass throughout the series – from the first book to the most recent has spanned a decade. I found it fascinating to get a taste for how the mood of the country changed, and how life changed for so many of the characters.

Why They Might Not Be For You

The mysteries are the weakest element, and they’re almost all entirely forgettable. If you want mysteries where the focus is on clever plotting and matching wits with a detective (or criminal), these aren’t the ones for you.

There’s a slight mystical storyline running through several of the books (especially the earlier ones) that led to coincidences playing too large a role in solving the mystery. Maisie seems to rely on intuition an awful lot, and her descriptions of it were a bit eye-rolling.

Maisie is almost too perfect of a character. She’s smart and kind and sensitive and has men seemingly falling for her all the time. Her biggest flaw is even that she cares too much for others and tries to arrange their lives.

Reading Them All

Because of the emphasis on characterization, these are books you’ll want to read in order. So much time passes, and so many significant events happen to various characters that you’ll really miss out if you read later books first. Don’t do it!

If you like listening to your books, they’re all available via Audible, but there is a different narrator for each of the first two books. Beginning with book three, it’s the same narrator, so you can get used to a familiar voice telling the story. I enjoyed her narration and especially appreciated being able to hear the variation in accents that Winspear sometimes describes, but I could never really understand until hearing the books.

Find the Books:
  1. Maisie Dobbs Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  2. Birds of a Feather Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  3. Pardonable Lies Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  4. Messenger of Truth Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  5. An Incomplete Revenge Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  6. Among the Mad Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  7. The Mapping of Love and Death Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  8. A Lesson in Secrets Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  9. Elegy for Eddie Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  10. Leaving Everything Most Loved Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  11. A Dangerous Place Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  12. Journey to Munich Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  13. In This Grave Hour Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Read all the posts in the “Series Love” series. Because sometimes it makes more sense to talk about the entirety of a book series, instead of doing a post about each individual title.


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Series Love: Peter Grant / Rivers of London

Peter Grant by Ben Aaronovitch series covers

A new series all about … book series! Because sometimes it makes more sense to talk about the entirety of a book series, instead of doing a post about each individual title.

First up, is my beloved Peter Grant / Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you may remember my post about the first entry in the series, Midnight Riot. You may also have seen the other titles in the series appear in my New on the Stack posts, so don’t be surprised if the author’s name is familiar.

This series is a ton of fun – it’s a delightful conglomeration of mystery and urban fantasy. Things get weird in it, so if you don’t like oddball books these probably won’t appeal to you, but I love them. Peter, Leslie, Nightingale, Beverly, The Folly – the personalities involved and the setting all make me so happy.

Why They Might Not Be Your Cup of Tea

The series is very British and sometimes I have to guess on some of the slang or Google it if I can’t figure it out by the context. I’m sure I’m still missing some nuances, but I love how British it is. It makes me wish I knew London better, as I’m sure I’d appreciate some of the events more if I wasn’t so clueless as to where things take place in relation to each other (I know, I could get out a map, but I don’t care that much).

There are a few sex scenes, but nothing is too graphic. It’s enough that my grandmother wouldn’t have been willing to continue reading the books, so if you’re a very conservative reader you may want to pass (or know that you may have a few pages to skip over).

If you’re a sensitive reader, you may be bothered by some of the more disturbing scenes. There are some icky things mentioned; not usually super detailed, but it’s in there. I am not a sensitive reader so I could usually just think “ew” and move on. Know your own reading tolerance for this sort of thing.

While I love the series as a whole, the books themselves are sometimes uneven. Book #4 ends on a major cliffhanger, so you’ll want to have #5 ready to go. Book #5 mostly takes place outside of London, and I prefer Peter in a more urban environment. The ending for book #5 is fairly weak as well – it just kind of ends, and many loose threads are left dangling. If all I’d ever read was that one, I’d be wondering what on earth all the fuss was about the series – this isn’t a series that works well enough as potential stand-alone titles.

Reading Them All

If you find you love the series, there are some graphic novels, short stories, and novellas that are intermixed with the main novels. None of them are essential for following the storyline from the novels (although there are some comments in a few of the later novels that refer back to events from the graphic novels).

Numbered titles in bold are the novels, that need to be read to follow the overall plot, and should be read in order to avoid spoilers. Other titles are optional, but fun if you’re a series fanatic. Be aware that the visual nature of the graphic novels makes them a poor choice for Kindle copies, and don’t be like me and let your kids peek over your shoulder as you read them. A couple of the illustrations caught me off guard and I quickly moved to close the book before my kids could notice.

Audio book fan? The narrator for the series is excellent. You can get a good sample of his style on the free Audible short story linked below.

  1. Midnight Riot (published in the UK as Rivers of London) Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
  2. Moon Over Soho Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  3. Whispers Under Ground Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  4. Broken Homes Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  5. Foxglove Summer Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
  6. The Hanging Tree Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads
The Graphic Novels
Extra Stories

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!