Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mini-reviews, Detective Edition: Maisie Dobbs and Countdown City

Maisie Dobbs is a woman on the verge of new things. She has returned home from nursing soldiers during WWI and now she is ready to open her own detective agency. Her first case seems rather cut and dry, when a wealthy man asks her to find out if his wife is unfaithful. But what Maisie uncovers about her first case will force her to confront her own experiences during the war and race against the clock to protect veterans whose lives are in danger at home.

I have to confess that I started this book a few times, and put it down again. I'm so glad it stuck this time. At the moment I am writing this, I've already read the second book and am looking forward to more. This first book combines Maisie's first case with her past, as we learn how the poor daughter of a man who drives a vegetable cart was able to go to college and become a detective. While this is a mystery, it is also about the horrors of war as experienced by Maisie, her assistant Billy, and many other characters. Maisie and Ms. Winspear have definitely earned a place on my bookshelves along with other fictional detectives.

Maisie Dobbs
By Jacqueline Winspear
Penguin May 2004
309 pages
From my shelves

Former detective Hank Palace should be following most other people and spending time with loved ones or lying out on the beach with a drink in hand. After all, there are only about two months left before an asteroid crashes into the earth and destroys the world as we know it. But Hank lives life as normally as possible--helping out the neighborhood kids and meeting his former colleagues for breakfast at the local diner. When his childhood babysitter asks him for help, he accepts the job even with the knowledge that he probably will not be able to find her husband. His search will take him to an anarchist camp on a college campus and a deserted historical landmark where the fates of hundreds of people will be decided.

Countdown City is indeed a mystery, but it's a bit more complicated than your usual case. Hank knows that in the current situation, some people just don't want to be found. Is it more important for him to find the missing husband or try to keep himself safe? Mr. Winter's imagined world on the brink is fascinating and terrifyingly plausible. Hank is a wonderful guide to the end of the world, and I am excited to find out what Winters does in the last book of the series.

Countdown City (The Last Policeman #2)
By Ben Winters
Quirk Books July 2013
316 pages
From my shelves


  1. I own Maisie Dobbs, but I just can't motivate myself to read it. Maybe I will get to it one day!

    1. It's so strange because I've started it several times. But once I got a few chapters in, I was hooked!