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 by Jacqueline Winspear X
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 360 pages
    Aug 2005, 320 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Joseph Waite."

Maisie took a breath and opened her mouth to reply but was prevented from doing so.

"I'll get directly to the point, Miss Dobbs. My daughter, Charlotte, is missing from home. I'm a busy man, so I will tell you straight, I do not want to involve the police because I don't for one minute think that this is a police matter. And I don't want them turning this place upside down while they waste time speculating about this and that, and drawing every bored press man to my gates while they're about it."

Maisie once again drew breath and opened her mouth to speak, but Waite held his hand up from the table, his palm facing her. She noticed a large gold ring on his little finger, and as he placed his hand on the table, she saw that it was encrusted with diamonds. She stole a sideways look at Billy, who raised an eyebrow.

"It's not a police matter because this is not the first time she's left my house. You are to find her, Miss Dobbs, and bring her back before word gets out. A man in my position can't have a daughter running around and turning up in the newspapers. I don't have to tell you that these are difficult times for a man of commerce, but Waite's is trimming its sails accordingly and doing very nicely, thank you. It's got to stay that way. Now then." Waite consulted his watch yet again. "You've got twenty minutes of my time, so ask any questions you want. I won't 'old back."
Maisie perceived that although Waite had worked hard to eliminate a strong Yorkshire accent, the occasional revealing long vowel and the odd dropped h, unlike that of the London dialect, broke through.

"I'd like some details about your daughter." Maisie reached for the blank index cards that Billy handed her. "First of all, how old is Charlotte?"

"Thirty-two. About your age."


"And with about half the gumption!"

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Waite?"

"I'll make no bones about it; Charlotte is her mother's daughter. A wilting lily, I call her. A good day's work wouldn't do her any harm at all, but of course the daughter of a man in my position has no need. More's the pity."

"Indeed. Perhaps you could tell us something about what happened on the day Charlotte disappeared. When was she last seen?"

"Two days ago. Saturday. Morning. At breakfast. I was down in the dining room, and Charlotte came in, full of the joys of spring, and sat down at the other end of the table. One minute she seemed as right as rain, eating a bit of toast, drinking a cup of tea, then all of a sudden she starts with the tears, sobs a bit, and runs from the room."

"Did you go after her?"

The man sighed and reached for an ashtray, into which he tapped the smoldering end of his cigar, leaving a circle of pungent ash. He drew deeply on the cigar again and exhaled.

"No, I didn't. I finished my breakfast. Charlotte is a bit of a Sarah Bernhardt, Miss Dobbs. An actress-should've been on the stage, like her mother. Nothing is ever good enough for her. I thought she'd've made a suitable marriage by now, but no, in fact-you should write it down there-" He waved his cigar toward Maisie's index card. "She was jilted by her fiancé a couple of months ago. Even with my money she can't get a husband!"

"Mr. Waite, the behavior you describe suggests that your daughter may have been in a state of despair."

"'Despair'? 'Despair'? She's always had fine food in her belly, clothes-and very good clothes, I might add-on her back. I've given her a good education, in Switzerland, if you please. And she had a proper coming out ball. You could've fed a family for a year with what I spent on the frock alone. That girl's had the very best, so don't tell me about despair, Miss Dobbs. That girl's got no right to despair."

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girls in the Picture
    The Girls in the Picture
    by Melanie Benjamin
    Melanie Benjamin's fine historical novel about the relationship between two women in the early ...
  • Book Jacket: The Driest Season
    The Driest Season
    by Meghan Kenny
    On a summer afternoon in 1943, an almost sixteen-year-old Cielle Jacobson walks into the family barn...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The House of Broken Angels
    by Luis Alberto Urrea

    The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story from an acclaimed storyteller.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Y L D W D, Y'll G U W Fleas

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.