Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator like no other. And her detective skills are about to be tested as never before...

London, 1930. Joseph Waite is a man who knows what he wants. As one of Britain's wealthiest men, he last thing he needs is a scandal. When his daughter runs away from home, he is determined to keep the case away from the police and the newspapers. So he turns to a woman known for her uniquely intuitive approach to criminal investigation, and for her discretion - the extraordinary Maisie Dobbs.

Waite's instructions are to find his daughter and bring her home. But the task is far from straightforward. Maisie soon uncovers a chilling link to a recent murder case, and finds herself revisiting the tragedy of the Great War.

Having put off reading the first Maisie Dobbs books for years, I was determined to not do the same thing with the second book! It took me only five months!

When Maisie is called in by one of the richest men in Britain, it seems a relatively simple task. Find his missing daughter without involving the police and the media, and do it quickly and Mr Waite would reward her sweetly.

This isn't the first time that Miss Charlotte Waite has disappeared which is in itself quite perplexing, because she is a young lady who seems to have a very comfortable life - she is wealthy and pampered and has the best of everything. The only down side seems to be that she has recently broken off her engagement although it soon becomes clear that she lives in a very controlled environment - everything being controlled by her father.

Appearances can be deceptive though, especially when a friend of hers is murdered and by tying the clues together it becomes clear that there is something far more sinister going on. Maisie needs to find Charlotte and her friends and work out what it is exactly that makes four respectable young women the target for a killer.

Once again, the lasting effects of World War I play a huge part in the storyline, and for me that is one of the biggest pluses to reading this series. It is often easy to think that World War I went from 1914 to 1918, and then the Great Depression went from the late 1920s, and then World War II started in 1939 and that they were almost standalone events. The reality is though that many of the people who were affected by the first war were affected by the Depression and were again affected by the second war, and so they are indelibly linked in the lives of these people. I have a post half written in my drafts about something along these lines that I might get around to finishing one of these days.

One of my favourite quotes from Birds of a Feather addresses exactly this subject. It comes from page 263 and it is Lady Rowan, Maisie's original employer, who is speaking to Maisie:

"That's one more thing that I detest about war. It's not over when it ends. Of course, it seems as if everyone's pally again, what with agreements, the international accords, and contracts and so on. But it still lives inside the living, doesn't it?"

Maisie's assistant Billie was really the embodiment of this sentiment in this book. His war wounds are playing up and he seems to be making some dubious choices, which gave Maisie something additional to worry about whilst she completes her investigation.

The secondary characters are all present including her aging father, Lady Rowan, Maurice Blanche and more. I was pleased to see that Maisie felt more comfortable with Simon's place in her life, but I was also glad that she seems to have decided that it might be time to at least start thinking about moving forward.

I have already picked up the next book in the series from the library!

This review is adapted from the original posted at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader


  1. This is going on my reading list! I know what you mean by putting books off. I read, A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley, then In Pursuit of the Green Lion, but I have yet to read the Water Devil, I have wanted to but time escapes me. I have it on my reading list as well as sitting on my nightstand for months. So after your review here I go adding another. LOL thanks so much for the wonderful review!

  2. I really must continue this series ;-)

  3. I must get to this author soon.

  4. I just ordered the first book in the series -- everyone seems to love Maisie and I want in on the action! ;)

  5. I've heard such good things about this series, but have never read her books. Need to remedy that.

  6. I dearly love these books.

  7. I just started the first Maisie Dobbs book this week! So far the book is much different than I expected (but in a good way!)....it's shaping up to be a fun series!! :)