Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book Review - Birds of a Feather, a Maisie Dobbs Mystery by Jacqueline Winspear

Book Synopsis
An eventful year has passed for Maisie Dobbs. Since starting a one-woman private investigation agency in 1929 London, she now has a professional office in Fitzroy Square and an assistant, the happy-go-lucky Billy Beale. She has proven herself as a psychologist and investigator, and has even won over Detective Inspector Stratton of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad—an admirable achievement for a woman who worked her way from servant to scholar to sleuth, and who also served as a battlefield nurse in the Great War.

It’s now the early Spring of 1930. Stratton is investigating a murder case in Coulsden, while Maisie has been summoned to Dulwich to find a runaway heiress. The woman is the daughter of Joseph Waite, a wealthy self-made man who has lavished her with privilege but kept her in a gilded cage. His domineering ways have driven her off before, and now she’s bolted again.

My Review
A few years ago, my book discussion group read Maisie Dobbs.  I recall feeling that I was reading a newly written classic mystery, and wondered what future books in the series would be like.  I am delighted to say that Birds of a Feather is another exceptional mystery novel.

Maisie is a fascinating detective, with her background in both domestic service and as a World War I nurse.  Her instincts about people, places, and situations are so interesting to read I love the way she combines detecting and psychology. 

For instance, in Birds of a Feather, Maisie and her assistant, Billy Beale, are hired to find a missing heiress.  When they visit the heiress's home, Maisie draws the maid aside for an interview by open windows.  She has discovered that people are more open and talkative in an open place.  Then she subtly adapts the maid's speech and accent in order to establish more rapport.

Later, Maisie and Billy play act a scenario between the missing heiress, Charlotte, and her father, the exacting Mr. Waite.  They both had new impressions of the people involved after this exchange.

The Maisie Dobbs books are historical mysteries, and the period piece details are fascinating.  This novel is set in Spring 1930, so we get remembrances of World War I, of the 1920's, and the new decade ahead.

Maisie is one of the most interesting detectives in current fiction.  She is intelligent, intuitive, creative with thought and detection, and also warm and compassionate.

The mystery is nuanced, with well written characters and surprising twists.  

I cannot recommend both this book, Birds of a Feather, and the Maisie Dobbs series highly enough.  I will admit that I am already wishing that these books would be adapted for the PBS Masterpiece Mystery! series.  Mostly, though, I look forward to more Maisie Dobbs reads.      

Author Bio
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website,, and find her on Facebook.

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

The Maisie books are, for me, good solid comfort reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

trish said...

I think I would really like the infusion of psychology in solving a mystery. Such a smart idea, seems very Sherlock Holmes-esque!

Birdhouse Books said...

Thanks for the visits! Heather, I agree -- these books are perfect comfort reading. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.