Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Birds of a Feather

Summary: The sequel to Jacqueline Winspear's compelling debut, Maisie Dobbs—"chilling, suspenseful, [and] riveting" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Jacqueline Winspear’s marvelous and inspired debut, Maisie Dobbs, won her fans from coast to coast and raised her intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Birds of a Feather finds 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. -- Penguin

It's that time again -- another edition of Book Club Girl's I'm Mad for Maisie! I realized how much I enjoyed Jacqueline Winspear's first MAISIE DOBBS book (my review) when I re-read the book a few weeks ago; and after reading BIRDS OF A FEATHER, I realized that I truly am Mad for Maisie! I just love this series about a smart and intuitive female detective that takes place in England in the 1930s.

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to review all eight books (assuming I get all of the books read for the read-alongs!) because many of the things I enjoyed about the first two books are the same. First of all, I enjoyed the mystery and it did keep me guessing. Having said that, in books like these, I don't spend too much time trying to figure out the crime -- I just enjoy the story. In BIRDS OF A FEATHER, I thought the murder mysteries were intriguing, and I did like how Maisie unraveled all of the information to arrive at her conclusions. I was bit frustrated when Maisie admitted that she had it all figured out and I was still a little clueless, but that's a good thing in a mystery book, right?

Even though BIRDS OF A FEATHER is a mystery, I find that the parts of the book that most appealed to me have to do with Maisie. She really is such a fantastic character and so interesting to me. In MAISIE DOBBS, I was introduced to Maisie and discovered a lot of information about her past and especially the time she spent as a nurse during the war. All of these events definitely explained much of Maisie's personality and actions, but I was still left with quite a bit of questions about her character when I finished the first novel.

In BIRDS OF A FEATHER, I felt as if I was able to learn more about Maisie's character. This novel not only delved deeper into her relationship with her father, but it also explored some of the lessons she learned from her mentor Maurice. I loved seeing how Maisie "interpreted" crime scenes to learn more about the victims. Her incredible intuition skills almost bordered on the supernatural to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the story.

Besides learning more about Maisie in this novel, I also got to see more of her assistant Billy Beale. In MAISIE DOBBS, I found him to be a great character who also provided a little bit of comic relief -- until the end when he went undercover to help Maisie solve a crime. However, in BIRDS OF A FEATHER, Billy's character was much more complex and even dark at times. I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of Billy's character and I really appreciated that the book explored Billy's troubles as well as his recovery.

One of the things that I loved most about both MAISIE DOBBS and BIRDS OF A FEATHER was how Maisie managed to learn some valuable things about herself while investigating the crimes. In the case of BIRDS OF A FEATHER, Maisie's concerns about not fitting in as well as her lack of close female friendships came to light while looking into the disappearance of a wealthy woman and the deaths of her friends. I really liked how, in both novels, the author tied Maisie's growth and character development to the circumstances surrounding the mystery. So smart and so well-done!

I just loved the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series, and I can't wait to read the third novel -- PARDONABLE LIES! Make sure you stop by and see what everyone is saying about BIRDS OF A FEATHER!


bermudaonion said...

I know I won't get these read for the read-along, but they sound so delightful, I'm adding them to my wish list.

Beth F said...

I am definitely reading the first one sometime soon. :)

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

These books have only recently come onto my radar, but they sound like a lot of fun.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

These do sound fun. I too like when the character learns about herself in addition to the crime!

Sandy Nawrot said...

If this series ever passes by my eyes, I will surely grab them. I love cozy mysteries, and I love all that British wit.

Cindy Hudson said...

I've had other friends recommend these books, but I haven't read the first one yet. You've given me another reason to move the series high on my list.

Anonymous said...

Great review Julie - I have a feeling that Maisie will help fill the Downton Abbey shaped hole in my heart for the next month and a half ;)

Becca said...

I think I like the Maisie storyline better than the mystery too :) She's so appealing. Glad you're enjoying these as much as I am!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm starting these soon1 I'm so pumped that they're all of a sudden hitting everyone's TBR's. My mom has been into them all for a long time. Enjoy the rest!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I loved the character development in BIRDS OF A FEATHER -as you mention, Maisie, Billy, and her father reveal much more of themselves to us.

The mystery itself was more involved, too, and I feel like I learned more about the Great War and its affects (years later, even) on the country and the world.

Can't wait to see what happens in the next book!