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Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs Series #2)

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs Series #2)

4.3 97
by Jacqueline Winspear

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The second Maisie Dobbs mystery

Jacqueline Winspear’s marvelous debut, Maisie Dobbs, won her fans from around the world and raised her intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Birds of a Feather, its follow-up, finds psychologist and private investigator Maisie Dobbs on


The second Maisie Dobbs mystery

Jacqueline Winspear’s marvelous debut, Maisie Dobbs, won her fans from around the world and raised her intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Birds of a Feather, its follow-up, finds psychologist and private investigator Maisie Dobbs on another dangerously intriguing adventure in London “between the wars.” It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. But what seems a simple case at the outset soon becomes increasingly complicated when three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead. Is there a connection between the woman’s mysterious disappearance and the murders? Who would want to kill three seemingly respectable young women? As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

At first, Maisie Dobbs thinks that the Charlotte Waite case involves nothing more than a strict father and a runaway heiress. But that first impression dissolves instantly when the lifeless bodies of three of Charlotte's closest friends turn up; each of them poisoned, bayoneted, then left in a crime scene decorated by a white feather. Who committed these mocking murders? Is Charlotte Waite the culprit or merely the next name on the hit list? Maisie Dobbs's second case exhibits her powers of ingenuity and her author's narrative gifts.
Marilyn Stasio
What makes Maisie such a remarkable operative is the holistic philosophy that informs her humane methods. Trained in Freudian psychology and conscious of the interaction of mind and body (she even follows the exercise regimen of Joseph Pilates), Maisie insists on tracing a crime to its psychic roots -- and makes her clients sign an agreement to that effect.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The eponymous heroine of Winspear's promising debut, Maisie Dobbs (2003), continues to beguile in this chilling, suspenseful sequel set in England a decade after the end of the Great War. Maisie, "Psychologist and Investigator," as the brass nameplate on her office door declares, gets hired by a wealthy industrialist to find his only daughter, Charlotte Waite, who has gone missing. With the help of her cockney assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie sets out to learn all she can of Charlotte's habits, character and friends. No sooner has Maisie discovered the identities of three of these friends than they start turning up dead-poisoned, then bayoneted for good measure. At each crime scene is left a white feather. Increasingly preoccupied with these tragedies, Maisie almost loses sight of her original mission, until it becomes apparent that the murders and Charlotte's disappearance are related. As in her first novel, the author gives an intelligent and absorbing picture of the period, providing plentiful details for the history buff without detracting from the riveting mystery. Readers will be eager to see more of the spunky Maisie, with her unusual career as a one-time maid, nurse and university student. Agent, Amy Rennert. (June 15) Forecast: A Top Ten Book Sense 76 pick for 2003, Maisie Dobbs has been nominated for both Agatha and Edgar awards. A win of either of these in late May, followed by a national author tour, will help propel sales of Birds of a Feather. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this historical mystery set in 1930s England, psychologist-detective Maisie Dobbs is hired by self-made grocery tycoon Joseph Waite to find his thirtysomething runaway daughter. As Maisie painstakingly follows leads, she discovers that Charlotte Waite's friends are dying of suspicious causes and the only clue is a white feather. This carefully plotted mystery also offers glimpses of the political, social, and economic climate of postwar England. Secondary characters and plot lines enhance the novel without detracting from the main story. Kim Hicks's narration complements the text and adds atmosphere; her dialectical skill captures the range of British social classes. While this is a standalone mystery, Maisie Dobbs-the first book in the series-gives listeners insight into who Maisie and the recurring cast of characters are. Recommended for libraries with diverse mystery collections or whose patrons enjoy British mysteries or procedurals featuring women detectives.-Gwendolyn E. Osborne, Evanston, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The spirited heroine of Maisie Dobbs (Soho, 2003) is back to solve another puzzle in post-World War I London. Having been trained by a master detective, the former serving girl now a Cambridge graduate is hired by grocery magnate Joseph Waite to find his wayward daughter, Charlotte. What begins as a simple missing-person case evolves into the investigation of three murders, all of young women who were friends during the war. Charlotte may be the next target. Chock-full of period details such as how to start a 1920s-era MG, what to buy at the grocer's, what to wear in the country, soup kitchens, and heroin use, the novel follows Maisie's progress as she uses detection, psychology, and even yogalike centering to clear her mind. There is much substance to this mystery, which mines the situations brought about by the horrors of the war-both on the front and at home, and its still simmering aftermath-plus a hint of romance and the beginning resolution of two father-daughter rifts. The story flows easily, descriptions are vivid and apt, and character is limned quickly, with each an individual. This is an utterly enjoyable and painless history lesson and a well-plotted and consistent mystery that will appeal to teens looking for more than just historical fiction.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's 1930s London, and sleuth Maisie Dobbs is coping with painful personal woes while tracking a devious multiple murderer. A year after hanging out her shingle as a private investigator (Maisie Dobbs, 2003), Maisie is relieved to have a thriving business in new and nicer quarters. Still, memories and flashbacks of her heroic days as a WWI nurse frequently interrupt her current pursuits even as war veteran Billy Beale, Maisie's hard-working assistant, puts a brave face on the persistent pain he still suffers from a battle injury. When London is gripped by the unsolved murder of a young woman in Coulsdon, Maisie verbally spars over the case with courtly Inspector Stratton, who displays both professional and romantic interest in her. Meanwhile, she's hired by wealthy Joseph Waite to find Charlotte, his missing daughter, with whom he's had a stormy relationship. Sensing unhappiness in clues left behind by the young woman of her own age, Maisie feels a special affinity for her. The search gains urgency when Charlotte's friend Lydia Fisher is found murdered and both women are tied to the Coulsdon case. And there are further unwelcome complications. The drugs Billy takes for his pain lead to erratic behavior that concerns both Maisie and his devoted wife Doreen and makes him a suspect in Miss Fisher's murder. And the sudden death of Maisie's vigorous father further tests her mettle and endangers the investigation. A standard-issue mystery enhanced by elegant prose and a strong period flavor. Agent: Amy Rennert/Amy Rennert Agency
From the Publisher
Praise for Birds of a Feather

Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Novel

“Haunting . . . What makes Maisie such a remarkable operative is the holistic philosophy that informs her humane methods . . . A heroine to cherish.”
The New York Times Book Review

Birds of a Feather succeeds both as a suspenseful mystery and as a picture of a time and place . . . Maisie’s liveliness of mind, good sense, and kind nature make her a heroine a reader can enjoy spending time with.”
The Boston Globe

“If you like classic mysteries . . . you’ll love Winspear’s Birds of a Feather.”
The Denver Post
“The eponymous heroine of Winspear’s promising debut, Maisie Dobbs (2003), continues to beguile in this chilling, suspenseful sequel . . . As in her first novel, the author gives an intelligent and absorbing picture of the period, providing plentiful details for the history buff without detracting from the riveting mystery. Readers will be eager to see more of the spunky Maisie.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Praise for Maisie Dobbs
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel
Macavity Award Winner for Best First Novel
Alex Award Winner

“Compelling . . . powerful. [Maisie Dobbs] testifies to the enduring allure of the traditional mystery . . . even though I knew what was coming this second time 'round, its final scene is still a punch in the gut.”
—Maureen Corrigan for NPR’s Fresh Air, speaking on the 10th Anniversary edition of Maisie Dobbs

"[A] deft debut novel . . . Romantic readers sensing a story-within-a-story won't be disappointed. But first they must be prepared to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment."
The New York Times

"The reader familiar with Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency . . . might think of Maisie Dobbs as its British counterpart . . . [Winspear] has created a winning character about whom readers will want to read more."
The Associated Press

"[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman."
Chicago Tribune

“A fine new sleuth for the twenty-first century. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget.”
—Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley series

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Maisie Dobbs Series , #2
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Maisie Dobbs shuffled the papers on her desk into a neat pile and placed them in a plain manila folder. She took up green marble-patterned W.H. Smith fountain pen and inscribed the cover with the name of her new clients: Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Johnson, who were concerned that their son’s fiancée might have misled them regarding her past. It was the sort of case that was easily attended to, that would provide a useful reference, and that could be closed with presentation of a timely report and accompanying account for her services. But for Maisie the case notes would not be filed away until those whose lives were touched by her investigation had reached a certain peace with her findings, with themselves, and with one another—as far as that might be possible. As she wrote, a tendril of jet black hair tumbled down into her eyes. Sighing, she quickly pushed it back into the chignon at the nape of her neck. Suddenly, Maisie set her pen on the blotting pad, pulled the troublesome wisp of hair free so that it hung down again, and walked to the large mirror hanging on the wall above the fireplace. She unpinned her long hair and tucked it inside the collar of her white silk blouse, pulling out just an inch or so around her chin-line. Would shorter hair suit her?
     “Perhaps Lady Rowan is right,” said Maisie to her reflection in the mirror. “Perhaps it would look better in a bob.”
    She turned from side to side several times, and lifted her hair just slightly. Shorter hair might save a few minutes of precious time each morning, and it would no longer come free of the chignon and fall into her eyes. But one thing held her back. She lifted her hair and turned her head. Was the scar visible? Would shorter hair fall in such a way as to reveal the purple weal that etched a line from her neck into the sensitive flesh of her scalp? If her hair were cut, would she lean forward over her notes one day and unwittingly allow a client to see the damage inflicted by the German shell that had ripped into the casualty clearing station where she was working, in France, in 1917?
    Looking at the room reflected in the mirror, Maisie considered how far she had come—not only from the dark dingy office in Warren Street that was all she had been able to afford just over a year ago, but from that first meeting with Maurice Blanche, her mentor and teacher, when she had been a maid in the household of Lord Julian Compton and his wife, Lady Rowan. It was Maurice and Lady Rowan who had noted Maisie’s intellect and ensured that she had every opportunity to pursue her hunger for education. They had made it possible for the former tweeny maid to gain admission to Girton College, Cambridge.
    Maisie quickly pulled her hair into a neat chignon again, and as she pinned the twist into place, she glanced out of the floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked Fitzroy Square. Her assistant, Billy Beale, had just turned in to the square and was crossing the rain-damp gray flagstones toward the office. Her scar began to throb. As she watched Billy, Maisie began to assume his posture. She moved toward the window with shoulders dropped, hands thrust into imaginary pockets, and her gait mimicking the awkwardness caused by Billy’s still-troublesome war wounds. Her disposition began to change, and she realized that the occasional malaise she had sensed several weeks ago was now a constant in Billy’s life.
    As she looked down at him from what had once been the drawing room window of the Georgian building, he stretched the cuff of his overcoat over the palm of his hand and polished the brass nameplate informing visitors that the office of M. Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, was situated within. Satisfied, Billy straightened, drew back his shoulders, stretched his spine, ran his fingers through his tousled shock of wheaten hair, and took out his key to the main door. Maisie watched as he corrected his posture. You can’t fool me, Billy Beale, she said to herself. The front door closed with a heavy thud, and the stairs creaked as Billy ascended to the office.
    “Morning, Miss. I picked up the records you wanted.” Billy placed a plain brown envelope on Maisie’s desk. “Oh, and another thing, Miss, I bought a Daily Express for you to ’ave a butcher’s ’ook at.” He took a newspaper from the inside pocket of his overcoat. “That woman what was found murdered in ’er own ’ome a week or two ago down in Surrey—you remember, in Coulsden—well, there’s more details ’ere, of who she was, and the state she was in when she was found.”
    “Thank you, Billy,” said Maisie, taking the newspaper.
    “She was only your age, Miss. Terrible, innit?”
    “It certainly is.”
    “I wonder if our friend . . . well, your friend, really—Detective Inspector Stratton—is involved?”
    “Most likely. Since the murder took place outside London, it’s a Murder Squad case.”
    Billy looked thoughtful. “Fancy ’avin’ to say you work for the Murder Squad, eh, Miss? Don’t exactly warm folk to you, does it?”
    Maisie scanned the article quickly. “Oh, that’s a newspaper invention to sell more papers. I think they started to use it when the Crippen case became big news. It used to be called the Reserve Squad, but that didn’t sound ominous enough. And Criminal Investigation Department is a bit of a mouthful.” Maisie looked up at Billy, “And by the way, Billy, what do you mean by my ‘friend,’ eh?”
    “Aw, nuffin’ really, Miss. It’s just that—”
    Billy was interrupted by the ringing of the black telephone on Maisie’s desk. He raised his eyebrows and reached for the receiver.
    “Fitzroy five six double 0. Good afternoon, Detective Inspector Stratton. Yes, she’s ’ere. I’ll put her on.” He smiled broadly, covering the receiver with his palm as Maisie, blushing slightly, held out her hand to take it. “Now, Miss, what was it that Doctor Blanche used to say about coincidence being a—what was it? Oh yes, a messenger of truth?”
    “That’s enough, Billy.” Maisie took the receiver and waved him away. “Inspector Stratton, how very nice to hear from you. I expect you’re busy with the murder case in Coulsden.”
    “And how did you know that, Miss Dobbs? No, don’t tell me. It’s probably best that I don’t know.”
    Maisie laughed. “To what do I owe this call, Inspector?”
    “Purely social, Miss Dobbs. I thought I’d ask if you might care to dine with me.”
    Maisie hesitated, tapped the desk with her pen, and then replied,
“Thank you for the invitation, Inspector Stratton. It really is most kind
of you . . . but perhaps we can lunch together instead.”
    There was a pause. “Certainly, Miss Dobbs. Will you be free on Friday?”
    “Yes, Friday would be excellent.”
    “Good. I’ll meet you at your office at noon, and we can go from there to Bertorelli’s.”
    Maisie hesitated. “May I meet you at Bertorelli’s? At noon?”
    Again the line was quiet. Why does this have to be so difficult? Maisie thought.
    “Of course. Friday, noon at Bertorelli’s.”
    “I’ll see you then. Good-bye.” She replaced the receiver thoughtfully.
    “Aye-oop, ’ere’s a nice cuppa for you, Miss.” Billy placed the tea tray on his desk, poured milk and tea into a large enamel mug for Maisie, and placed it in front of her.
    “Don’t mind me askin’, Miss—and I know it ain’t none of my business, like—but why don’t you take ’im up on the offer of a dinner? I mean, gettin’ the odd dinner fer nuffin’ ain’t such a bad thing.”
    “Lunch and dinner are two entirely different things, and going out for luncheon with a gentleman is definitely not the same as going out to dine in the evening.”
    “You get more grub at dinner, for a start—”
Billy was interrupted by the doorbell. As he moved to the window
to see who might be calling, Maisie noticed him rub his thigh and
wince. The war wound, suffered almost thirteen years before, during
the Battle of Messines in 1917, was nipping at him again. Billy left to
answer the doorbell, and as he did so, Maisie heard him negotiate the
stairs with difficulty as he descended to the front door.
    “Message for M. Dobbs. Urgent. Sign ’ere, please.”
    “Thanks, mate.” As Billy signed for the envelope he reached into his pocket for some change to hand the messenger. He closed the door and sighed before mounting the stairs again. As he returned to the office he held out the envelope to Maisie.
    “That leg giving you trouble?” she asked.
    “Just a bit more than usual. Mind you, I’m not as young as I was.”
    “Have you been back to the doctor?”
    “Not lately. There ain’t much they can do, is there? I’m a lucky fella—got a nice job when there’s ’undreds and ’undreds of blokes linin’
up fer work. Can’t be feelin’ sorry for meself, can I?”
    “We’re fortunate, Billy. There seems to be more business for us, what with people going missing after losing all their money, and others getting up to no good at all.” She turned the envelope in her hands. “Well, well, well . . .”
    “What is it, Miss?”
    “Did you notice the return address on the envelope? This letter’s from Joseph Waite.”
    “You mean the Joseph Waite? Moneybags Joseph Waite? The one they call the Banker’s Butcher?”
    “He’s requested that I come to his residence—‘soonest,’ he says—to receive instructions for an investigation.”
    “I suppose ’e’s used to orderin’ folk around and getting ’is own way—” Billy was interrupted once more by the ringing telephone. “Gawd, Miss, there goes the  dog-and-bone again!”
    Maisie reached for the receiver.
    “Fitzroy five six double 0.”
    “May I speak to Miss Maisie Dobbs, please?”
    “Speaking. How may I help you?”
    “This is Miss Arthur, secretary to Joseph Waite. Mr. Waite is expecting you.”
    “Good morning, Miss Arthur. I have only just received his letter via personal messenger.”
    “Good. Can you come today at three? Mr. Waite will see you then, for half an hour.”
    The woman’s voice trembled slightly. Was Miss Arthur so much in awe of her employer?
    “Right you are, Miss Arthur. My assistant and I will arrive at three. Now, may I have directions?”
    “Yes, the address is as follows: Do you know Dulwich?”

“Ready when you are, Miss.”
    Maisie looked at the silver nurse’s watch pinned to her jacket as if it were a brooch. The watch had been a gift from Lady Rowan when Maisie took leave from Girton College and became a VAD at the London Hospital, a member of the wartime Voluntary Aid Detachment of nursing staff during the Great War. It had kept perfect time since the very first moment she pinned it to her uniform, serving her well while she tended injured men at a casualty clearing station in France, and again when she nursed shell-shocked patients upon her return. And since completing her studies at Girton the watch had been synchronized many times with the pocket watch belonging to Maurice Blanche, when she worked as his assistant. It would serve her for a few more years yet.
    “Just time to complete one more small task, Billy; then we’ll be on our way. It’s the first week of the month, and I have some accounts to do.”
    Maisie took a key from her purse, opened the middle drawer on the right-hand side of her large desk, and selected one small ledger from the six bound notebooks in the drawer. The ledger was labeled motor car.
    Maisie had been given use of the smart MG 14/40 sports roadster belonging to Lady Rowan the year before. Recurring hip pain suffered as the result of a hunting accident rendered driving difficult for Lady Rowan, and she insisted that Maisie borrow the motor car whenever she wanted. After using the vehicle constantly for some months, Maisie had offered to purchase the MG. Lady Rowan teased that it must have been the only transaction involving a motor car in which the buyer insisted upon paying more than the owner had stipulated. A small percentage for interest had been added at Maisie’s insistence. Taking up her pen, Maisie pulled her checkbook from the same drawer and wrote a check, payable to Lady Rowan Compton. The amount paid was entered in a ledger column and the new balance owed underlined in red.
    “Right then, Billy, just about done. All secure?”
    “Yes, Miss. Case maps are in my desk, and locked. Card file is locked. Tea is locked—”
    “Just pullin’ yer leg, Miss!” Billy opened the door for Maisie, and they left the office, making sure that the door was locked behind them.
    Maisie looked up at the leaden sky. “Looks like rain again, doesn’t it?”
    “It does at that. Better get on our way and ’ope it blows over.”
    The motor car was parked at the edge of Fitzroy Street, its shining paintwork a splash of claret against the gray April afternoon.
    Billy held the door for her, then lifted the bonnet to turn on the fuel pump, closing it again with a clatter that made Maisie wince. As he leaned over the engine, Maisie observed the gray smudges below his eyes. Banter was Billy’s way of denying pain. He gave the thumbs-up sign, and Maisie set the ignition, throttle, and choke before pressing the starter button on the floor of the motor car. The engine burst into life. He opened the passenger door and took his seat beside her.
    “Off we go, then. Sure of your way?”
    “Yes, I know Dulwich. The journey shouldn’t take more than an hour, depending upon the traffic.” Maisie slipped the MG into gear and eased out into Warren Street.
    “Let’s just go over what we already know about Waite. That Maurice had file cards on him is intriguing in itself.”
    “Well, according to this first card, Dr. Blanche went to ’im askin’ for money for a clinic. What’s that about?” Billy glanced at Maisie, then looked ahead at the road. “It’s starting to come down.”
    “I know. London weather, so fabulously predictable you never know what might happen,” observed Maisie before answering Billy’s question. “Maurice was a doctor, Billy; you know that. Before he specialized in medical jurisprudence, his patients had a bit more life in them.”
    “I should ’ope so.”
    “Anyway, years ago, long before I went to work at Ebury Place, Maurice was involved in a case that took him to the East End. While he was there, examining a murder victim, a man came rushing in shouting for help. Maurice followed the man to a neighboring house, where he found a woman in great difficulty in labor with her first child. The short story is that he saved her life and the life of the child, and came away determined to do something about the lack of medical care available to the poor of London, especially women and children. So for one or two days a week, he became a doctor for the living again, working with patients in the East End and then across the water, in Lambeth and Bermondsey.”
    “Where does Waite come in?”
    “Read the card and you’ll see. I think it was just before I came to Ebury Place, in 1910, that Maurice took Lady Rowan on one of his rounds. She was appalled and determined to help. She set about tapping all her wealthy friends for money so that Maurice might have a proper clinic.”
    “I bet they gave her the money just to get her off their backs!”
    “She has a reputation for getting what she wants and for not being afraid to ask. I think her example inspired Maurice. He probably met Waite socially and just asked. He knows immediately how to judge a person’s mood, and to use that—I suppose you’d call it energy—to his advantage.”
    “Bit like you, Miss?”
    Maisie did not reply but simply smiled. It had been her remarkable intuitive powers, along with a sharp intellect, that had led Maurice Blanche to accept her as his pupil and later as his assistant in the work he described as the forensic science of the whole person.
    Billy continued. “Well, apparently old Dr. Blanche tapped Waite for five ’undred quid.”
    “Look again, and you’ll probably find that the five hundred was the first of several contributions.” Maisie used the back of her hand to wipe away condensation accumulating inside the windshield.
    “Oh ’ere’s another thing,” said Billy, suddenly leaning back with his eyes closed.
    “What is it?” Maisie looked at her passenger, whose complexion was now rather green.
    “I don’t know if I should read in the motor, Miss. Makes me go all queasy.”
    Maisie pulled over to the side of the road and instructed Billy to open the passenger door, put his feet on the ground and his head between his knees. She took the cards and then summed up the notes on Joseph Waite. “Wealthy, self-made man. Started off as a butcher’s apprentice in Yorkshire—Harrogate—at age twelve. Quickly demonstrated a business mind. By the time he was twenty he’d bought his first shop. Cultivated the business, then outgrew it inside two years. Started selling fruit and veg as well, dried goods and fancy foods, all high quality and good prices. Opened another shop, then another. Now has several Waite’s International Stores in every city, and smaller Waite’s Fancy Foods in regional towns. What they all have in common is firstclass service, deliveries, good prices, and quality foods. Plus he pays a surprise visit to at least one store each day. He can turn up at any time.”
    “I bet they love that, them as works for ’im.”
    “Hmmm, you have a point. Miss Arthur sounded like a rabbit on the run when we spoke on the telephone this morning.” Maisie flicked over the card she was holding. “Now this is interesting . . .” she continued. “He called upon Maurice—yes, I remember this—to consult with him about ten years ago. Oh heavens . . .”
    “What is it? What does it say?” asked Billy, wiping his brow with a handkerchief.
    “This is not like Maurice. It says only, ‘I could not comply with his request. Discontinued communication.’”
    “Charmin’. So where does that put us today?”
    “Well, he must still have a high opinion of Maurice to be asking for my help.” Maisie looked at Billy to check his pallor. “Oh dear. Your nose is bleeding! Quickly, lean back and press down on the bridge of your nose with this handkerchief.” Maisie pulled a clean embroidered handkerchief from her pocket, and placed it on Billy’s nose.
    “Oh my Gawd, I’m sorry. First I ’ave to lean forward, then back. I dunno . . . I’m getting right in the way today, aren’t I?”
    “Nonsense, you’re a great help to me. How’s that nose?”
    Billy looked down into the handkerchief, and dabbed at his nose. “I think it’s better.”
    “Now then, we’d better get going.”

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, as well as The Care and Management of Lies, a novel of World War I. Originally from Kent, England, she now lives in California.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

Ojai, California
Date of Birth:
April 30, 1955
Place of Birth:
Weald of Kent, England
The University of London¿s Institute of Education

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Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 97 reviews.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Although it is set in 1930, and World War I had been over for little more than a decade, the effects of the war are still being felt. Maisie's assistant Billy, who was badly injured during the war, has become addicted to pain killers. His wife comes to Maisie concerned about her husband, and confirming Maisie's own suspicions that something is wrong with Billy. The main mystery concerns the disappearance of a young woman whose wealthy father owns many grocery stores. Her disappearance comes on the heels of the deaths of three other women, women whom Maisie discovers were friends of the missing woman. There are many possible suspects, but when the police narrow it down to one of the dead women's husbands, Maisie believes they have the wrong man. She uses the methods taught to her by her mentor Dr. Blanche, both scientific and intuitive, to find the killer. (Again, it could be a forerunner of the popular TV series CSI crossed with The Mentalist.) My favorite line in the book is one of Dr. Blanche's teachings to Maisie: "Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth. (That) there are no accidents of fate." Maisie still visits Simon, the doctor she fell in love with during the war, at the hospital where he will never recover. Her compassion is touching, but in this book it appears that Maisie is ready to move on to having a romantic relationship with another man. She has two possible suitors: Dr. Dene and Inspector Stratton. It will be interesting to see in future books which man may win her heart, and whether either man can stand up to the memory of Simon. Again, I loved the description of Maisie's clothes. I would love to see illustrations in the book of Maisie's outfits. I also found the characters in this book more rounded out. Joseph Waite, the wealthy father of the missing girl, is intriguing. He is overbearing with his daughter, but he is kind to his customers and to the families who lost sons and husbands during the war. Joseph's relationship with his daughter caused Maisie to reflect more on her own relationship with her father, which seems more distant as the years go by. The Order of the White Feather was something I had never heard of before this book, and it was incorporated well into the story. Young women tend to be dramatic, and the way in which these young ladies thought they were helping the war effort caused more pain than they could have ever imagined. And in the end, it caused them much pain too. I'd like to see Maisie become more emotionally open, and hope that in future books in the series, we see her find some happiness. Perhaps in the next novel in the series, Pardonable Lies. If you enjoy historical fiction and female protagonists, Maisie is the lady for you.
Vicki_o More than 1 year ago
This was my second Maisie Dobbs book and I couldn't put it down. Ms. Winspear's research is very good. You get a feeling for the history and life of the time in which the book is set. The characters are well portrayed and the story keeps your interest. I've now read the whole series and am thoroughly hooked on Maisie Dobbs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a young girl over 60 years ago, I fell in love with the Nancy Drew books and as fast as I read one, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next. I feel the same way about Maisie Dobbs all these years later. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery including some historical facts on life in England between WWI and the depression, should read this series.
DoctorJS More than 1 year ago
We Americans have so much to learn about the realities of war. This series by Jacqueline Winspear gives us marvelous insight into British WW1 history through the unique perspective of Masie Dobbs, psycologist and investigator.
dr_cac More than 1 year ago
Personally I enjoy Winspear and her style of writing. The time period, post WWI is an interesting time and she reflects this quite well. Her characters are flushed out even further in this second book and we begin to see and appreciate them more fully. I find her plots to be intriguing and not forced or manipulated. She leads us as if she doesn't know what is going to happen next - and I like that methodology. It always appears that we have the same facts as the writer, that she's not holding something back to spring on us. I'm looking forward to the next installment. This is a series that definitely doesn't disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am hooked on maisie dobbs. If you are in the mood foro gentle story telling in a historical setting,( and sometimes i am), you will enjoy this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I discovered Maisie Dobbs stories recently and have devoured all in the series without pause! After working as a servant in the home of aristocrats, Maisie Dobbs later serves as a nurse in World War 1 and goes on to become a highly respected psychologist and investigator. The plots of these stories are complex and exciting with a wonderful, endearing cast of characters. Start by reading "Maisie Dobbs", followed by "Birds of a Feather" and hopefully you will be as hooked on this great character as I was. Some of the paperback editions have discussion questions at the back so you and your friends (who of course will be reading Maisie Dobbs books by now as well!) can have a "Maisie Day" together. No kidding, the series is just that good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is more than fifteen years after the Great War ended and England is recovering even though the depression makes the division between the classes more noticeable. Masie Dobbs was lucky to find a patron who funded her studies in nursing and psychology. She served as a nurse in France where she was injured and her great love Simon came back from the war in a catatonic state that has not lifted since his return. Masie works as a private investigator, who uses meditation as a way of opening up her senses to the world around her. Although her methods of combining investigation with psychology are unusual, it always works........................... . Rich supermarket magnate Joseph Waite hires Masie to find his daughter Charlotte who has a habit of running away from home even if she is thirty-seven years of age. Masie deduces that she left the day she saw in the newspaper that one of her old friends from boarding school was murdered. Two more of charlotte¿s former friends die and a white feather is found on or near each murder victim. Masie must find a way to keep Charlotte safe and bait a trap to catch the killer......................... Readers will thoroughly enjoy this delightful and charming mystery and find themselves interested in the historical details of England between the wars. The protagonist is not a radical feminist but an independent person who believes that she is as capable as any man in her chosen profession. Although she has known much sorrow, she is a kind-hearted and generous person who cares about people, especially those who are suffering the aftereffects of WWI. BIRDS OF A FEATHERwill definitely appeal to fans of great mysteries........................... Harriet Klausner
K.Alex Sawyer More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and liked it even more than the first. It simultaneously manages to keep from being simplistic and deliver a classic mystery. The series is a little new-agey for me but I like the questions and themes that reoccur.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Wonderful mystery series starting out during the Great War and progressing into the '20 and '30, perhaps longer. I've only read the 1st two in the series. Masey Dobbs runs her own investagative,and also along with solving mysteries adds her wise physicological advise to persons she has dealings with. It's unique story telling and each book has been hard to put down. If you like mysteries I can't imagine that you'd be disappointed in meeting Miss Maisy Dobbs nd her side kick Billy. Totally fun and absorbing reading. (Enough so that a book I,ve been waiting to be published for over a year in another series will just have to wait
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just begun reading . 4 stars so far
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Birds of a Feather is the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Now in a new office in Fitzroy Square with Billy Beale as her permanent assistant, Maisie Dobbs is still under the generous patronage of Lady Rowan Compton, living at the Compton's Ebery Street house and in the process of buying Lady Rowan's crimson MG. Maisie is engaged by a wealthy and highly respected self-made businessman and philanthropist, Joseph Waite, to find his daughter Charlotte, who has, once again, run away from home. A woman in her early thirties, the reason for Charlotte's disappearance is not entirely apparent, although it is obvious that neither her father nor the household staff have a good relationship with her. But is this rather unhappy young woman in hiding (and if so, where?), has she met with foul play or an accident, or has she taken her own life? Following up with Charlotte's very sparsely-populated address book, Billy and Maisie discover a link with a young woman recently murdered, and soon, in exactly the same manner, the same fate befalls another of Charlotte’s contacts. When Maisie tracks down a third contact, a weeks-old suicide also begins to look suspicious. Joseph Waite has not been entirely forthcoming with information, and it seems that Billy Beale also has a problem he is not sharing with Maisie. DI Stratton makes a premature arrest and dismisses Maisie's misgivings; he continues his pursuit of Maisie socially, but his are not the only attentions Maisie has to handle. As well as expanding on Maisie's support cast, this installment illustrates further what life was like in 1930's England in rich and poor households alike, describing clothing and accoutrements, customs and behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. It also touches on the themes of remembrance and reminders, guilt, resentment and forgiveness, shame and coercion. Maisie demonstrates the value of following one’s intuition, of listening to service personnel, of re-enacting certain situations and of empathy with witnesses and victims; she uses trace evidence and, as usual, gets valuable advice from her mentor, Maurice Blanche. Yoga, Pilates, a convent, chronic pain and narcotic abuse, and a decoy stand-in all feature. Another historical mystery with an intriguing plot and an exciting climax.
lovetoread72 More than 1 year ago
Love this series - cannot wait to read of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy English mysteries and this one is excellent. A good summer beach book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read 2 books from this series, I like them. Easy reads, but I do feel like they are not really mysteries the reader can solve. I do like how the main character approaches solving mysteries, but we are missing the ability to do it ourselves. I'd keep looking into the series to see if this changes at all. I do like the people, the commentray on the time period and the mystery solving approach put forth by the author.
Anonymous 4 months ago
My sisters and I share a love of reading...and now we share a love of Maisie Dobbs!
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The books about Maisie Dobbs are definitely not to be judged by their covers. There is nothing simplified about them. They are well-plotted and full of details about the period in which they are set: the years following WWI. Maisie is intelligent, caring and independent and I'm looking forward to learning more about her and the characters who surround her.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good characters and intriguing mystery. Clean for those who want to avoid smut and dirty language, but still enjoy a good read. The Maisie Dobbs Series was recommended to me and I heartily recommend it to others.
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