Thursday 11 April 2019

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear is my 12th. book for Bev's Calendar of Crime challenge, covering the April category of 'Author's birth month'.

The daughter of wealthy businessman, Joseph Waite, has gone missing. Charlotte Waite saw something in the paper one morning which alarmed her and subsequently disappeared off the face of the Earth. Waite doesn't want a lot of publicity so instead of calling the police he hires Maisie Dobbs to look into the matter. She's not very taken with the man but acknowledges that he's a good businessman and looks after the staff of his grocery chain well.

It doesn't take Maisie and her war veteran assistant, Billy Beale, long to discover that this is not the first time Charlotte has done a runner. Is she merely trying to escape her father's suffocating shackles once again or is there something more sinister going on? It seems it's the latter. Maisie discovers links between Charlotte and two women recently murdered by poisoning, and another who committed suicide. It seems the four women were close friends during World War One and it falls to Maisie and Billy to discover who and why someone wants them dead.

Yet another series I've done a complete reversal on, from not being that impressed with the first book some years ago, to rereading it, liking it a lot and moving on to this, book two, and loving it to bits. Why? Well, this time around I find I really love the relationships in it. There's Maisie and her father, Frankie, a man of humble origins, who can't understand why there's something preventing the two from being very close. Then there's Maisie's relationship with her two mentors, Lady Rowan who supported her financially through university, and Maurice Blanche her investigating mentor. Wouldn't we all like someone like these two in our lives?

Billy Beale is such an interesting character too, badly wounded in the war he's in constant pain and there's a secret he's keeping which is really worrying Maisie. She has a couple of suitors too, Chief Inspector Stratton whom Daisy helps sometimes, but he blots his copybook somewhat in this book, and a new chap, a Dr. Dene who runs a clinic for war veterans and is a friend of Maurice's. Interesting to see how that will pan out.

As to the mystery, well, if I'm honest, it wasn't rocket-science to guess who the culprit was quite early on. The interest for me was in why. And that aspect and discussions about it were beautifully handled and extremely interesting. And not a little heart-breaking really. I often think there's a lot more to be learnt about all kinds of subjects from a fictional book like this than from a non-fiction book... excellent though those can be. I've already reserved books three and four from the library and am hoping they'll arrive soon.



DesLily said...

The characters always come first with me... then, of course, a good story. That's what's kept me reading Anne Perry's Monk series. Always good to have an enjoyable series in ones life!

Cath said...

Yeah, me too, Pat. If I can't get interested in the characters and feel what they're feeling etc. then I consider the book a failure. All us readers need our favourite series! LOL

Judith said...
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Judith said...

Hi Cath,
I really "got into" the Maisie Dobbs series with this one. I liked the first one very much, but the second solidified for me what the author was trying to do. And, oh my gosh, the third in the series is so, so good (imo) because Maisie discovers what happens when one does not attend and take care of one's old traumas. I love #3, but I also thoroughly enjoyed #4, which I read earlier this year. And, Cath, I've decided I will read #5 during 2019. I enjoy them too much to hold off.
How is your garden doing? How is your weather? Are you getting "goodly" amounts of sun? In the woods we still have between 8-12 inches of snow. In the fields, none now. But waiting for things to bud, anything, really. It's always hard to wait once we get to mid-April.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

This is one of those series which keeps on being recommended to me and which I really feel I should be reading. However, with book #15 about to be released and my thoughts that I need to go back and start reading from the beginning to get a proper handle on all the characters, this realistically just isn't going to happen.

I too, enjoy a book with well defined characters, although I am not too bothered if I don't particularly like or relate to them all. I also don't mind a mystery where I work out 'whodunnit' quite early on, just so long as the getting there is an interesting and developed storyline and journey.

It looks as though the entire suite of covers for this series has been re-vamped and I don't know about you, but I quite like the new, slightly more uniform look …

As always, a great review and thanks for sharing :)


Cath said...

Judith: Yes, I definitely liked book 2 more than book 1 and that's not to say I didn't like book 1, not at all. I now have books 3 and 4 on my library pile and will be getting to those very soon. So pleased to hear that book 3 is so good.

Our Spring weather is very changeable. A couple of very mild weeks in March, then turning chilly for a couple of weeks, warm again for Easter. Yo-yo weather. The garden's going well, all dug and ready for planting, my husband's growing seeds indoors, the window sills are covered and I have tomato seedlings in the conservatory. Great fun. I hope your Spring arrives soon, it's not unknown for us to get snow in April but it would soon be gone, certainly we would not have 8 inches lingering in woodlands.

Yvonne: Funny, I thought there were about 9 Maisie Dobbs books, didn't know the 15th. was about to be issued. Lots for me to be getting on with, LOL! Like you I don't mind at all guessing who committed the murder early on. After all, you can never really be sure anyway. Not until the end. I'm very taken with the covers I have to admit, they remind me of railway posters somewhat.

Thanks for stopping by and have a good week.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I've only read a few of the Maisie Dobbs books and did enjoy them. Somehow or other they've not been on my radar and I certainly didn't know that there are now so many. I think I'll have to see what my library has and Barter Books when I next visit.

Cath said...

Margaret: I've been surprised at how much I like the introspectiveness of these Maisie Dobbs books. This one was especially thoughtful on a certain aspect of WW1 on the homefront and it was fascinating. I now have the next two books on my library pile and am really looking forward to reading them.