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A Maisie Dobbs Mystery

By Jacqueline Winspear

Soho Press, June, 2004 ($25.00)
ISBN: 1569473684

Reviewed by Karen Meek

Maisie Dobbs returns for her second adventure in BIRDS OF A FEATHER after her debut in the eponymous and highly successful MAISIE DOBBS. Whereas in MAISIE DOBBS we got to follow Maisie from child to ‘psychologist and investigator’ via being a frontline nurse in WW1, in BIRDS OF A FEATHER, set in 1930, we get one case plus a few family matters.

Maisie is hired by prominent businessman Joseph Waite, of Waite’s International Stores, to find his daughter Charlotte who has apparently run away from home. It’s not the first time she has done this but her father wants to keep her close to hand. Maisie agrees to take the case but insists on the two parties agreeing to talk to each other before she returns Charlotte.

Maisie’s first lead soon goes cold as when she goes to interview Charlotte’s closest friend she discovers that she has been murdered. The manner of her death is similar to another recent murder, a case that Maisie’s policeman friend, DI Stratton, is investigating.

Maisie’s detection leads her to Hastings and another dead friend of Charlotte’s. This time the woman committed suicide, though the people who knew her said that it seemed unlikely. Maisie picks up another admirer in Andrew Dene, a local doctor and fellow protégé of Maurice Blanche.

Maisie has to discover why these young women are dying and if Charlotte is in mortal danger.

As well as the case Maisie must help her assistant Billy Beale conquer a drug addition brought on by a war injury and to compound that, her father has a heavy fall which brings home to Maisie how far apart she and her father have become.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER is a very interesting mystery with the killer’s motivation very much a product of the times. It’s not particularly fast paced but the period detail and seeming authenticity makes this an informative read as well as a whodunit. Maisie’s character continues to develop and grow and whereas she was ‘sensitive’ in the previous book she now has an almost psychic ability which draws her towards clues out of eyeshot.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER is a worthy follow-up to the outstanding MAISIE DOBBS and it left me eager to read the third, PARDONABLE LIES.

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