Excerpt from Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Birds of a Feather

A Maisie Dobbs Mystery

By Jacqueline Winspear

Birds of a Feather
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2004,
    360 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2005,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Maisie parked outside the main gates leading to a red-brick neo-Georgian mansion that stood majestically in the landscaped grounds beyond an ornate wrought iron gate.

"D'you reckon someone'll come to open the gate?" asked Billy.

"Someone's coming now." Maisie pointed to a young man wearing plus fours, a tweed hacking jacket, woolen shirt and spruce green tie. He hurriedly opened an umbrella as he ran toward the entrance, and nodded to Maisie as he unlatched the gates and opened them. Maisie drove the car forward, stopping alongside the man.

"You must be Miss Dobbs, to see Mr. Waite at three o'clock."

"Yes, that's me."

"And your companion is . . . ?" The man bent forward to look at Billy in the passenger seat.

"My assistant, Mr. William Beale."

Billy was still dabbing his nose with Maisie's handkerchief.

"Right you are, M'um. Park in front of the main door please, and make sure you reverse into place, M'um, with the nose of your motor pointing toward the gate."

Maisie raised an eyebrow at the young man, who shrugged.

"It's how Mr. Waite likes it done, M'um."

"Bit picky, if you ask me," said Billy as Maisie drove toward the house. "'Reverse in with nose pointing out'. Perhaps that's 'ow I should walk in there, backwards, wiv me nose turned away! I wonder who 'e thinks 'e is?"

"One of the richest men in Britain, if not Europe." Maisie maneuvered the car as instructed. "And as we know, he needs something from us, otherwise we wouldn't be here. Come on."

They strode quickly from the car toward the main door where a woman waited to greet them. She was about fifty-five, in Maisie's estimation, and wore a plain slate gray mid-calf length dress with white cuffs and a white Peter Pan collar. A cameo was pinned to the center of her collar and her only other adornment was a silver wristwatch on a black leather strap. Her gray hair was drawn back so tightly that it pulled at her temples. Despite her austere appearance, when Maisie and Billy reached the top step she smiled warmly with a welcoming sparkle in her pale blue eyes.

"Come in quickly before you catch your death! What a morning! Mr. Harris, the butler, has been taken poorly with a nasty cold. I'm Mrs. Willis, the housekeeper. Let me take your coats." Mrs. Willis took Maisie's mackintosh and Billy's overcoat, and passed them to a maid. "Hang them on the drier over the fireplace in the laundry room. Mr. Waite's guests will be leaving in-" she looked at her watch "-approximately thirty-five minutes, so get the coats as dry as possible by then."

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Willis," said Maisie.

"Mr. Waite will join you in the library shortly."

Maisie sensed a mood of tension that pervaded the house. Mrs. Willis's pace was hurried, urging them forward. At the library door she checked her watch as she reached for the brass door handle. A door opened behind them and another woman hurried to join the trio.

"Mrs. Willis! Mrs. Willis, I will take over from here and show Mr. Waite's guests in to the library," she panted.

Mrs. Willis relinquished them, frowning with annoyance. "Certainly, Miss Arthur. Please continue." She turned to Maisie and Billy. "Good morning," she said as she stepped away without looking at Miss Arthur again. Unfortunately she was prevented from making a dignified exit as the door opened once more and a rotund man strode toward them, consulting his watch as he approached.

"Right then, it's three o'clock. We'd better get on with it." Barely looking at Maisie and Billy, he strode into the library.

Billy leaned toward Maisie and whispered, "It's like a three-ring-circus in 'ere!"

She responded with a brief nod.

"Sit down, sit down," Joseph Waite pointed to two chairs on the long side of a rectangular polished mahogany table and immediately seated himself in a larger chair at its head. His girth made him seem short, though he was almost six feet tall and moved deceptively quickly. According to Maurice's notes, Waite had been born in 1865, which meant he was now sixty-five. His navy blue pinstripe suit was doubtless constructed at great expense by a Savile Row tailor. It was complemented by a white shirt, light gray silk tie, highly polished black shoes, and light gray silk socks that Maisie could just see as she glanced down at the floor. Expensive, very expensive, but then Joseph Waite reeked of new money and of the large Havana cigar that he moved from his right hand to his left in order to reach out first to Maisie, then to Billy.

From Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear.  Copyright Jacqueline Winspear 2004.  All rights reserved.  Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Soho Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  166The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.