Birds of a Feather, the second book in Jacqueline Winspear’s bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, is set at a time more than a decade after the conclusion of World War I — but entirely under its shadow.
As the Great Depression gathered steam, England and the nations of the Continent were just beginning to emerge from the terrible aftermath of the Great War, their countries littered with clinics and rehabilitation facilities where the front-line victims of the fighting lay, legless, armless, or otherwise badly damaged under the eyes of their devastated lovers or families. Maisie’s lover, Captain Simon Lynch, a physician, lies in a coma in one such place. Her faithful assistant, Billy Beale, is far more fortunate but deeply affected nonetheless by a leg wound and thirteen years of incomplete recovery.
Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2) by Jacqueline Winspear @@@@ (4 out of 5)
The terrible cost of war
“M. Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator,” is thirty-three years of age as Birds of a Feather opens. The year is 1930. Maisie has opened her own practice, having emerged from the tutelage of her mentor, Maurice Blanche. She now lives on her own in a London apartment, while her aging father tends the horses at the country estate of Lord Julian Compton and his wife, Lady Rowan. It was there that Maisie was transformed from a poor girl of thirteen, entered into service at the estate, into a polished young woman with a Cambridge education.
Maisie’s practice is thriving. In the midst of other, minor cases, she is hired by one of the richest men in all of Europe to track down his missing daughter, a seemingly simple assignment. But complications arise soon as one of the daughter’s old friends is found murdered in her home. Detective Inspector Stratton of Scotland Yard’s Homicide Squad reluctantly finds that Maisie is conducting her own investigation of the murder, obviously a conflict in the making. It’s clear that the two will collide as the plot unfolds and the investigation broadens. Throughout this suspenseful and intriguing novel, the terrible cost of World War I hangs over the action like a shroud.
About the author
Jacqueline Winspear was born and educated in England but now lives in Marin County, California. She has written a total of twelve Maisie Dobbs novels to date. As her website (linked above) explains, “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.”
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