Thursday, March 8, 2012

Birds Of A Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Maisie is 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.  When three of the heiress's old friends are found dead, Maisie must race to find out who would want to kill these seemingly respectable young women before it's too late.  As Maisie investigates, she discover that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.

I guess the first thing I have to say is how much I love the title of this book.  There are so many different plays on this theme throughout the book, so I found it to be a rather clever title.  The first, and most obvious connotation is that of The Order of the White Feather.  An organization started by Admiral Charles Fitzgerald that encouraged women to hand out white feathers to young and old men who had not signed up for the military during World War I.  It was basically calling them cowards which shamed many men to join up and go to their deaths.  It's an example of activism taken in the wrong direction.  The other major, at least in my opinion, usage of the term would be to lump Charlotte Waite and her three dead friends into one cohesive group.  They are four young women who banded together at a young age, four young women who made some very bad decisions and are now paying for it with their lives.

When Maisie is hired by Joseph Waite to find his missing daughter, she isn't prepared for the journey that search it about to take her on.  It will take her from the convent of a former mentor to the rooms of a convalescent home for maimed and scarred veterans of the war.  She will have to figure out not only why Charlotte fled the perceived safety of her home, but why these young women are turning up dead.  She must use her brains and intuition to piece the puzzle together in the hopes of keeping the last remaining young woman alive.  Secrets from the past have consequences in the present, a lesson that Charlotte is trying her best to run from.  Maisie's job is to make sure that lesson doesn't kill Charlotte as well.

Of the three Maisie Dobbs books I've read, this is the one that fits the "traditional" flow of a mystery novel.  It has a structure to it that I did not find in the other two books, but there is still a fluidity to it as well.  There just seems to be an aura of gentleness that emanates from the page that keeps the flow of the book from getting bogged down.  I'm not even sure that gentleness is the right word in this case, sympathy may be a better term to use.  Even when the murder is revealed, as a reader all I feel is sympathy for the person.  I understand and empathize with the killer's motive and pain.  What they do is horrific, but the place the actions come from is one of agony.  I feel sorry for them, and while the person needs to pay for what they did, I found myself wanting that payment to be less severe than I normally would.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the wonderful opportunity to read and review these books.  Please visit the tour page to read reviews of this book and the rest of the books in the series since the entire month of March is being devoted to them.


Audra said...

Great review -- I'm reading The Mapping of Love and Death later this month and in anticipation I picked up the first Maisie. I'm glad to see folks enjoy the later books -- makes me excited to get in to the series!

bermudaonion said...

This series sounds wonderful. Winspear must be a great writer if you felt sympathy for the killer.

Teddyree said...

Really enjoyed your review Ryan, I think I've seen the Maisie Dobbs books on Staci's blog and always thought I should give them a try.

Kaye said...

Wonderful review, Ryan! Glad you enjoyed the book so much and it evoked such emotion in you. It's pretty hard to feel sympathy for a killer.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Birds Of A Feather is a good title. I have not read any of these books yet but I want to try them!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Several reviewers have mentioned how appropriate the titles in this series are to the story, and that's something I really appreciate.

I'm glad you're continuing to enjoy the series Ryan! Thanks for being on the tour.

Staci said...

I'm sure I will become addicted to this series too!