April 29, 2010
Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Mystery - Audio Book
2005 Sound Library, Unabridged Edition
Finished on 4/16/10
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
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.
What a thoroughly enjoyable sequel! I was so entertained, listening in my car over an entire month, that the minute I finished (while out and about, running errands), I made a special trip to the library to get the third installment in the Maisie Dobbs series, Pardonable Lies. The reader for Birds of a Feather (Kim Hicks) is not the same as the reader for Maisie Dobbs (Rita Barrington) and I wasn't sure I was going to like her as much as Barrington. However, after listening to a couple of chapters, I forgot there was a difference in voice and style and wound up enjoying Hicks just as well as Barrington.
Here's a bit more from Winspear's website:
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.
Waite's instructions are to find his daughter and bring her home. When Maisie looks into the disappearance she finds a chilling link to Stratton's murder case, and to the terrible legacy of The Great War.
I love listening to these books! The setting, the time period, the details of clothing and make of vehicles, all come to life as I listen on my drive to and from work. The characters stay with me, invading my thoughts throughout the day. I find that, unlike when I read a printed book, I can recall all of the characters' names (including those in secondary roles) after listening to the audio version. I am completely immersed in Maisie's world. What a treat!
One of the downfalls of listening to an audio book is that it's difficult to share any of my favorite passages. I need to keep a small notepad handy in order to jot down a point of reference in order to look-up a special quote from the book. Until then, here's another quote from the author's website:
Jacqueline's grandfather was severely wounded and shell-shocked at The Battle of the Somme in 1916, and it was as she understood the extent of his suffering that, even in childhood, Jacqueline became deeply interested in the "war to end all wars" and its aftereffects. As an adult her interest deepened to the extent that, though she did not set out to write a "war" novel, it came as no surprise that this part of history formed the backdrop of Maisie Dobbs and other books in the series. The unique and engaging character of Maisie Dobbs is very much a woman of her generation. She has come of age at a time when women took on the toil of men and claimed independence that was difficult to relinquish. It was a time when many women remained unmarried, simply because a generation of men had gone to war and not come home.
"The war and its aftermath provide fertile ground for a mystery. Such great social upheaval allows for the strange and unusual to emerge and a time of intense emotions can, to the writer of fiction, provide ample fodder for a compelling story, especially one concerning criminal acts and issues of guilt and innocence. After all, a generation is said to have lost its innocence in The Great War. The mystery genre provides a wonderful vehicle for exploring such a time," explains Ms. Winspear.
I've already finished Pardonable Lies and I'm anxious to pay the library another visit. I hope they have a copy of Messenger of Truth!