The Comfort of Ghosts

Book 18

A New York Times and National Bestseller

A milestone in historical mystery fiction as Maisie Dobbs takes her final bow!

Psychologist and Investigator, Maisie Dobbs unravels a profound mystery from her past in a war-torn nation grappling with its future.

London, 1945: Four adolescent orphans with a dark wartime history are squatting in a vacant Belgravia mansion—the owners having fled London under heavy Luftwaffe bombing. Soon after a demobilized British soldier, ill and reeling from his experiences overseas takes shelter with the group, Maisie Dobbs visits the mansion on behalf of the owners.

Maisie is deeply puzzled by the children’s reticence. Their stories are evasive and, more mysteriously, they appear to possess hand-to-hand combat skills one might expect of trained adults in wartime. Her quest to bring comfort and the promise of a future to the youngsters and to the ailing soldier, reveals a decades-old mystery concerning Maisie’s first husband, James Compton, who was killed while piloting an experimental aircraft. As Maisie picks apart the threads of her dead husband’s life, she is forced to examine her own painful past and question beliefs she has always accepted as true.

The award-winning Maisie Dobbs’ series has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, readers who are drawn to a woman who is of her time, yet familiar in ours—and who inspires with her resilience and capacity for endurance at the worst of times. This final assignment of her own choosing not only opens a new future for Maisie Dobbs and her family, but serves as a fascinating portrayal of the challenges facing the people of Britain at the close of the Second World War.

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
An American Bookseller Association Indie Bestseller
An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far
The Boston Globe Best Books of Summer
BookBub’s Best Historical Fiction of Summer 2024

“Like many readers, I will dearly miss the voice of Maisie Dobbs.”
New York Times Book Review
As wise as Poirot, as intuitive as Miss Marple, as sharp as Vera Stanhope, Maisie impressed and endeared millions of readers with her case-cracking abilities, compassion and pluck.
The Washington Post
Wonderful . . . A satisfying conclusion.
The Boston Globe
Winspear delivers a most elegant and satisfying resolution… It’s a privilege to experience life with Winspear’s determined and maximally resilient woman protagonist.
Booklist, Starred Review
A fitting finale to a marvelously entertaining series full of finely drawn characters often scarred by the horrors of war.
Kirkus Reviews
A fitting, heartwarming conclusion to a beloved series.
Publishers Weekly

Full Praise

“It’s fall 1945, just after the end of World War II. Maisie has been asked to investigate the four orphaned teens who are squatting in the vacant, once-grand London mansion where she worked as a maid years ago. There, she inadvertently stumbles onto a decades-old mystery involving her first husband, who died while test-piloting an airplane.

Maisie’s life will be forever changed by what she discovers: ‘Truth had at last come to the surface, had eased itself from the boundaries of the past as if it were a splinter rising up through skin.’ Winspear gives Maisie the grace to face her pain, and wraps up the series with a deft touch.

Like many readers, I will dearly miss the voice of Maisie Dobbs.”
New York Times Book Review

“Winspear presents the eighteenth and final book in her internationally bestselling Maisie Dobbs series that began in 2003. In the very first novel, neatly titled Maisie Dobbs, Maisie remarks, ‘we only like our heroes out in the street when they are looking their best…. not when they’re showing us the wounds they suffered on our behalf.’ She was referencing WWI survivors. Her story spans the years 1910–45, and now, at its conclusion, Maisie finds herself dealing with many who have been terribly wounded, physically and mentally, by WWII. Four adolescent orphans damaged by their experiences are squatting in a vacant mansion in London, and when Maisie investigates, she discovers they are caring for a recently demobbed soldier on death’s doorstep. She also uncovers a decades-old secret about her deceased husband that puts her beliefs in him and his family to the test. Winspear delivers a most elegant and satisfying resolution. In her opening letter to the reader, she writes, ‘I’ve endeavored to create a body of work that is in equal measure a family saga and mystery series.’ She succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. It’s a privilege to experience life with Winspear’s determined and maximally resilient woman protagonist.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“Readers who snapped up every Maisie Dobbs book as it was released will find great satisfaction in seeing long-standing characters achieve some measure of peace at the end of a terrible time. Anyone coming to Winspear’s novels for the first time, or picking up this new volume after reading only a few of them over the years, might miss the emotional resonance of this reckoning and get lost among the many connections to earlier books. The Comfort of Ghosts is an apt title: The novel is haunted by so many losses that it sometimes feels as though Maisie is walking more among the dead than the living. But that’s a perfectly good reason to begin with that first novel, published more than 20 years ago, and binge-read the series before arriving at this satisfying conclusion.”
—The Washington Post (read full review)

“A fitting finale to a marvelously entertaining series full of finely drawn characters often scarred by the horrors of war.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A fitting, heartwarming conclusion to a beloved series.”
Publishers Weekly

“The wonderful Maisie Dobbs series comes to a satisfying conclusion as our intrepid investigator tackles the presence of squatters in a London home; the identity of a recently returned soldier; the killing of a rural aristocrat; and startling revelations in her own family life.”
Boston Globe

“It’s difficult for fans of the series to realise this is the 18th, and final, book in the life of private investigator and all round good egg Maisie Dobbs. Readers will have been at Maise’s side during personal loss, romantic gain and career highs and lows. In her final case that we’ll read, it’s 1945 and the peace that everyone is experiencing is more fraught and more difficult than the last six years of war. Maisie meets a group of adolescent orphans, old before their time, whose lives are surprisingly linked to Ms Dobbs… All in all, a cracking finale though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Maisie.”
Belfast Telegraph

“WW2 comes to an end and Winspear fans will be sad it’s the end of the wartime adventures of psychologist/investigator Maisie Dobbs too. On behalf of the owners of an abandoned Belgravia mansion Maisie sets out to help the squatters she finds living there, a former British POW suffering PTSD, and four orphaned children trained to be spies if Hitler invaded Britain. But this surprisingly leads to answers regarding her late husband and his last fatal flight, and other loose ends are neatly wrapped up too. Delightful.”
Peterborough Telegraph

“It’s October 1945. World War II is over and England is grappling with its devastating consequences, including continued food rationing, homelessness and psychological trauma. As private investigator and trailblazing psychologist Maisie Dobbs tries to help a small group of youth and a badly wounded soldier who are sheltering illegally in the Belgravia mansion of a friend, the various secrets the squatters harbor have implications that bring Scotland Yard calling and involve Dobbs’ deceased first husband. In sorting out those mysteries and helping a young man depressed over his role in ending the war, Dobbs draws on friends and colleagues who form what a character calls the “web of life” Dobbs has cultivated over the years. Facing the deep pain of the past and a future with her second husband that glimmers with possibilities makes Dobbs’ final case a deeply satisfying coda to the series and a fitting tribute to Winspear’s contribution in putting a female lens on the damage wrought by war on individuals, their families and society at large.”
LA Times

The Comfort of Ghosts expertly weaves together the connecting threads of the previous novels, reminding readers of the plot lines and essential characters, past and present. However, it is assuredly not limited to merely wrapping up with retrospective highlights… Jacqueline Winspear has written a complex, multilayered plot firmly rooted in post-WWII England.”

“Winspear excels at narrative depth, nurtures her heroine with affection, develops vibrant recurring characters and writes with refined British prose…. Inevitably, many readers who have long been bedazzled by the grace and gravitas of this impressive series will find themselves bereft by its absence. But the pleasures of its appeal—especially re-reading—will outweigh the pain of its departure…. A stirring chronicle of the horrors of war, the afflictions of the past and the labors of recovery, the final installment also brims with moral heft…. And as this multi-volume work transcends the merely memorable, it soars with class and courage, heart and humanity.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Maisie Dobbs Series