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The Mapping of Love and Death: A Maisie Dobbs Novel    by Jacqueline Winspear order for
Mapping of Love and Death
by Jacqueline Winspear
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Mapping of Love and Death is the seventh in Jacqueline Winspear's series starring Maisie Dobbs, who toiled as a nurse in World War I France and now acts as a sleuth with the help of her East Ender assistant Billy Beale. In her teens, Maisie was tutored by private investigator/spymaster Maurice Blanche, who taught her to use her considerable intellect as a a seeker of truth and a healer. Now she applies those skills to investigate love and death in wartime.

The Mapping of Love and Death does not open in post WW I Europe. Winspear first takes readers back in time to meet young cartographer Michael Clifton in 1914 California. He carefully maps the oil-rich land he has bought in the Santa Ynez Valley and looks forward to sharing the good news with his wealthy family. But back in town he learns that 'Britain goes to war!' against the Kaiser. He books passage to New York and sails to England, determined to do his part - and, after all, the war is sure to be over by Christmas, isn't it?

Fast forward to 1932, when Maisie takes on a case (referred by her friend, eminent American surgeon Charles Hayden) on behalf of Edward and Martha Clifton. Their son Michael died in the war, but his journal was found amongst his personal effects, along with letters from an English nurse. The Cliftons want Maisie to locate the nurse. When it quickly becomes clear that Michael Clifton was murdered, Maisie's investigation expands. Then the Cliftons are attacked in their hotel room and left for dead - why?

As Maisie's investigation heats up, her personal life grows even more demanding. Her beloved mentor Maurice Blanche is seriously ill. Maurice encourages Maisie to look at James Compton with fresh eyes, and when she does so she likes what she sees. A long overdue romance develops between them, despite the difference in their social stations. And when Maisie learns more about Michael Clifton's wartime romance, she has to balance what she owes her clients with 'Truth, not cruel to a friend.'

Despite the number of episodes in this outstanding series, the quality stays consistently high and The Mapping of Love and Death is one of the best. It leaves readers anxious to know what choices Maisie will make about her personal life, and to face Maurice's prediction 'of the darkness I fear will envelop Europe once again.'

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