Originally posted January 7, 2017
More than one friend had recommended the Maisie Dobbs books to me, and as I love mysteries, I finally got around to reading the first two books. One friend told me that liking it might depend on how quickly I wanted to see the mystery pursued.
I understood what this meant after the first novel, which spends a considerable amount of time revealing the heroine's backstory. However, I didn't mind that. I could also handwave the considerable luck that led to her education and eventual success since coincidences often get used to explain the unusual positions of women in historical novels.
What finally annoyed me enough to stop reading any further were the anachronistic woo-woo details of Maisie's semi-psychic insights into people and events. It's one thing if your story is meant to be a supernatural fantasy. However even then one must question the readerly enjoyment in following a psychic detective, since by definition their insights will be deus-ex-machina revelations that the reader can't possibly deduce or discover along with the detective. It's one thing if it's played for laughs, as it was in Dirk Gently, but there was no tongue-in-cheek about it at all with Maisie. I felt I was reading about a therapist more than a detective -- and not a therapist I'd personally want to consult either.
I'll grant you it's definitely a different approach to the mystery genre, so if one reads a lot in that area it might be a welcome change. But however interesting the mysteries might have been, I found myself wanting to kick the heroine every time she centered herself or got messages from dead people.
The too quickly gone Houdini & Doyle TV series also stepped into this area, but having Houdini's constant skepticism counter Doyle's belief helped, plus one didn't have to wonder where Doyle's assumptions were coming from.