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Birds of a Feather
Cover of Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather
Maisie Dobbs Series, Book 2
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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 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.
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.
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Excerpts-
  • 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...

About the Author-
  • Jacqueline Winspear is the author of New York Times bestsellers Among the Mad and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as eight other Maisie Dobbs novels. Originally from Kent, England, she now lives in California.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 3, 2004
    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.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2004
    In this follow-up to Winspear's Edgar Award-nominated Maisie Dobbs, her most unusual P.I. has been hired to find the missing daughter of a wealthy London magnate. As Maisie and her Cockney assistant, Billy Beale, try to track Charlotte Waite down, they discover that three of her old friends have been murdered-poisoned and then bayoneted. Did Charlotte run away to escape an overbearing father, or did she flee out of fear? Are the crimes connected to the Great War? Unlike the first book, which was a fascinating portrait of a young woman moving from servitude to independence, this is more a traditional mystery la Dorothy Sayers. But Winspear doesn't stint on the intriguing historical and social details that made her debut so compelling. She deftly captures Maisie's Upstairs, Downstairs dilemma of living in a class-ridden society: the former housemaid still feels "like a citizen of two countries, neither here nor there, but always somewhere in the middle." Strongly recommended for most mystery collections.-Wilda Williams, Library Journal

    Copyright 2004 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2004
    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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New York Times Book Review "Haunting . . . What makes Maisie such a remarkable operative is the holistic philosophy that informs her humane methods . . . A heroine to cherish."
  • The Boston Globe "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."
  • Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "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."
  • Maureen Corrigan for NPR's Fresh Air, speaking on the 10th Anniversary edition of Maisie Dobbs "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."
  • The New York Times "[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 Associated Press "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."
  • Chicago Tribune "[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman."
  • Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley series "A fine new sleuth for the twenty-first century. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget."
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Maisie Dobbs Series, Book 2
Jacqueline Winspear
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