Donna's Reviews > Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
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's review
Dec 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical, mystery-and-crime, library
Read from November 30 to December 01, 2010

In this story, Maisie's hired to find the missing daughter of an overbearing businessman, only to learn that her case has a link to Detective Inspector Stratton's latest murder investigation. When more bodies appear, Maisie suspects that the runaway she's tracking is the only one who can help lead her to the killer.

Maisie Dobbs continues to impress. The mystery is satisfying, and it's tied to the post-WWI setting really well. Their entire world is changing because of the staggering numbers of young men who either died or were wounded, and everyone is living with the consequences of the things that they did, and the things that happened to them, during the war. The characters are all trying to move on with their lives, with varying degrees of success.

One of the things that sets the first two books in this series apart from the pack is that they're really well grounded. Maisie is an impressive person. But as a woman of her background in that time period, she could never have gotten where she is without the help and support of those around her, especially her father, her wealthy patron, and her mentor. This sense of how Maisie's skills were developed and nurtured is often missing from my other favorite historical heroines, who sometimes seem to need elaborate plot justifications for their involvement in the mysteries they solve. Some of this difference can be put down to the time period and Maisie's working-class roots (most of the other historicals I read are about upper-crust Victorians), but it's also partly about Winspear's heavy focus on characterization.

I also enjoy that the book goes into Masie's crime-solving process. Her methods might strike some as kind of hokey, but they fit the character and the setting. It's certainly nice to see a different style of sleuth.

I'm looking forward to reading more about this character, especially now that she seems more ready to develop her personal life rather than just her professional one. I have to say, though, I don't really care for either of her suitors. That could be because of Maisie's own reluctance to get involved, but so far she doesn't read as if she has much chemistry with either.
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