The primary character in this story is Maisie, a private investigator whose rise from the servant class is due to careful mentoring by her upper class employers. The second character is World War I, seen over time from the horrors of the battlefield to the devastating legacy it left on the minds and bodies of the survivors. Maisie too served in the war as a nurse, and her empathy for the ex-soldiers leads her to investigate an establishment where their lingering traumas are in danger of being exploited. Maisies complete life is told via a series of long, rather maudlin flashbacks. There is considerably more depth in Winspears details about upstairs and downstairs life, her accounts of the war and its aftermath, and in Maisies physiological approach to her new found trade.