London, 1930. Psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is hired to prove that a wartime aviator really died when his plane went down years ago, an investigation that leads her back to France for the first time since she served there as a nurse. She has to confront those memories in order to bring peace not only to her client but to herself.
This was a pleasant, if slow-moving read - but slowness is not always a bad thing. The mystery is easy to guess, not so much from clues left behind but from the shape and thrust of the story, and each guess is confirmed one by one as Maisie patiently and diligently works to unearth proof of what really happened. Not that there weren't any surprises - there just also wasn't much of a puzzle. It didn't really bother me, since I don't read detective stories for the puzzle but for the journey. As a character, Maisie is cautious, non-judgmental, conservative and not at all flashy, which in itself is refreshing.
There were elements that were not to my taste. Although Maisie is the protagonist, she still seems to think of herself as an apprentice to her old mentor, Maurice. She does not claim her own authority. Moreover Maisie, Maurice and presumably the author believe that there is a correct, healthy way to confront tragedy and conduct one's life: either settle down into more or less conservative life or suffer mentally. It's comforting, but a little too easy - everyone and everything put into their individual boxes marked "happiness". This is entirely personal and not even exactly a complaint. Stories should have happy endings, I agree. I just don't like being told what the right answer is, or that there even is always an answer which isn't fundamentally just the lesser of two evils.
This was one of those books I paid for but put in the library's book exchange shelf after reading. I enjoyed it, and would like others to get the chance to enjoy it too, but I don't expect I'll ever want to re-read it - though I might well want to pick up another Jacqueline Winspear.