Fiction, Mystery, Series & Collections

Maisie Dobbs: Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear

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In Birds of a Feather, the second installment of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series, our heroine is much more introspective. Not only does she ponder her unsolved cases, but she also spends a fair amount of time pondering the direction of her own life. She notices her father, Frankie, getting older. She sees the satisfaction her assistant, Billy Beale, exhibits about his thriving family.

These musings, plus Maisie’s ever-present memories of her nursing experiences during World War I, affect her view while working on her newest case. She has been hired by prominent, rags-to-riches businessman, Joseph Waite, to locate his missing daughter, Charlotte.

What seems like an open-and-shut case becomes complicated when Charlotte’s three old friends turn up dead. Suicide? A serial killer? Will Charlotte be the next victim? Or is she responsible? These are the questions Maisie must answer during her quest to locate the missing woman. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s father is impatient and anxious for answers.

Despite the high-quality writing and engaging supporting characters, I found myself trudging through this book. Any time an author creates a series, they take on the enormous task of maintaining a certain momentum. The main character must be appealing, sympathetic, and hold the reader’s interest from one adventure to the next. This reader was distracted by a lack of momentum and, perhaps, too many supporting characters and peripheral story lines that did not contribute to the central plot.

The ending, while satisfactory, was only somewhat surprising and not especially dramatic compared to the one in the first book. Although, in all fairness, that ending was pretty spectacular and would be a tough act to follow for any author.

If you read the first book, the eponymous Maisie Dobbs, you are probably invested enough to want to see what happens to her. If you didn’t, Birds of a Feather still stands on its own two feet. Though slightly less impressive, I am willing to forgive the author and move on to Book 3. It will be my gauge in determining whether or not to pursue the rest of the series.

8/10 Stars

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