London detective Maisie Dobbs is hired by costermongers to investigate the accidental death of Eddie, the son of a friend. Maisie, whose father was a coster and who knows most of these working class men, takes the case which leads her to some unexpected places.
Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series has progressed in time from post-WWI to the
1930's when the possibility of another war seems to be threatening. The
tone of this series was initially melancholy because of the legacy of
WWI felt by the title character and everyone around her in London.
Maisie Dobbs managed, with help, to rise above her humble past, to get
an education and to start her own detective agency after the war. She
has a strong sense that she needs to 'pay back' for her good fortune and
has barely had time to enjoy her successes before realizing that a war
that has not even started has already claimed Eddie, the man whose death
she is hired to investigate.
If you haven't read this series
before, start with the first one, 'Maisie Dobbs' which introduces the
character and her background.
Similar in tone are Louise Penny's
Chief Inspector Ganache series which also are novel-like in the
complexity of the plot and development of characters. Ganache, like
Maisie, has a great sense of moral obligation to help people, rather
than just to solve puzzles that intrigue them.