New York : Henry Holt, c2006
I was sent this one as a review copy, and though it took me a few weeks to get to it, it is a great summer read. The series, of which this is the fourth installment, features Maisie Dobbs, Private Investigator. She is a wonderful character, a nurse in the war who has set up as a P.I. now the Great War has ended. It is set in London and has a very English sensibility. It reminds me a little of the wonderful BBC series Foyle's War, although it is set a few years later, in 1931. In Foyle's War, police Inspector Foyle deals with the social turmoil that arises on the home front during the War. In this series, Maisie Dobbs encounters the aftereffects of the Great War on English society. This particular novel also begins to discuss the difficulties arising with the beginnings of the Depression; overcrowding, poverty, social instability. She also realizes how this is affecting different classes of society in very different ways.
The story begins with the death of artist and war veteran Nick Bassington-Hope, who fell from his scaffolding the night before his first big exhibition. Scotland Yard considers it accidental death; Nick's sister Georgiana can not accept that, so hires Maisie. Her investigation takes her into the world of louche artists as well as into the upper reaches of society. The mystery itself is not as important as the social issues and period setting of the novel; if you're a fan of Maisie Dobbs already, you will likely enjoy this one, if not, I think it would help to start with the first book in the series, entitled Maisie Dobbs, and work your way forward. The development of Maisie's character is a large element in these stories, and is especially enjoyable when you begin with her introduction. A good choice for a lazy weekend, especially if you already know you like this period in English life.