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Maisie Dobbs Hardcover – July 1, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,320 customer reviews
Book 1 of 12 in the Maisie Dobbs Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in England, once worked as a nanny, later spent ten years in English publishing as a sales and marketing manager and now lives in Northern California with her husband. Birds of a Feather is her second novel featuring private investigator Maisie Dobbs.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Maisie is 14 when her mother dies, and she must go into service to help her father make ends meet. Her prodigious intellect and the fact that she is sneaking into the manor library at night to read Hume, Kierkegaard, and Jung alert Lady Rowan to the fact that she has an unusual maid. She arranges for Maisie to be tutored, and the girl ultimately qualifies for Cambridge. She goes for a year, only to be drawn by the need for nurses during the Great War. After serving a grueling few years in France and falling in love with a young doctor, Maisie puts up a shingle in 1929 as a private investigator. She is a perceptive observer of human nature, works well with all classes, and understands the motivations and demons prevalent in postwar England. Teens will be drawn in by her first big case, seemingly a simple one of infidelity, but leading to a complex examination of an almost cultlike situation. The impact of the war on the country is vividly conveyed. A strong protagonist and a lively sense of time and place carry readers along, and the details lead to further thought and understanding about the futility and horror of war, as well as a desire to hear more of Maisie. This is the beginning of a series, and a propitious one at that.
Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Series: Maisie Dobbs Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569473307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569473306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While "Maisie Dobbs" has been categorized as a novel/mystery, the book actually reads more like a novel (even though there is a mystery at hand, and our heroine is a detective) than it does a 'straight' mystery novel. But this did not stop me from enjoying the book at all.
Once Maisie Dobbs was a domestic servant with little expectation of anything else aside from rising within the ranks. However, thanks to the sponsorship of her employer, Lady Rowan Compton, who quickly realised that there was something really special about the thirteen year old, Maisie was given an education. Now, Maisie is a young woman and eager to make her mark; and thanks to the tutorship of Lady Rowan's good friend, Maurice Blanche (a renowned detective himself), Maisie is ready to embark on her first case. Unfortunately, it looks as if her first case is going to be a case of marital infidelity: Mr. Davenham suspects that his much younger wife, Celia, is having an affair; and he wants Maisie to either confirm his worst fears or else refute them. Little does Mr. Davenham realise, however, that Maisie is no ordinary detective. A highly intuitive and empathic young woman, Maisie senses Mr. Davenham's anguish over his wife's alleged infidelity and is resolved to help the Davenhams repair their strained marital bond. Her investigation however leads her to a graveyard, and to a grave marked only with a simple tombstone and a name -- Vincent. A casual search turns up other graves -- all memorialized with tombstones and first names only. Something about the whole thing awakens Maisie's misgivings, and trusting her instincts she decides to widen her investigation, never dreaming just how much this investigation will affect her...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Never much of a mystery reader, in the last number of years I have been introduced to two wonderful female detectives of sorts. One was Fremont Jones, a private detective based in San Francisco at the turn of the century and the heroine of a series written by Dianne Day. The other was Mma Ramotswe from the Alexander McCall Smith mystery series set in Botswana, Africa. While I enjoyed the mystery angles of both series, it was the women and their personalities, the geographical areas where they lived and the historical times which intrigued me so greatly. And as much as I loved these books, I remember thinking that I most likely would never find another female character from this genre who would appeal to me in quite the same way. But then I didn't know that very shortly I would meet up with the most intriguing character of all, one Maisie Dobbs from the book with the same title by Jacqueline Winspear. And as I said in the title of this review, I just know this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

We first meet Maisie Dobbs in 1929 when she is moving into her first office in London. A private detective, Maisie has been tutored and apprenticed by a Dr. Maurice Blanche who is highly regarded in London's social circles.

Her first case seems rather ordinary when a man suspects his wife of cheating on him. Following the woman in question, Maisie finds a lady mourning a childhood friend killed during W.W.I. But more than that Maisie also uncovers a rather sinister plot involving a farmhouse used as a retreat for men unable to rejoin society. Called the Retreat it holds the answer to why certain war heroes met untimely deaths while living at the Retreat.
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Format: Hardcover
Fans of Maisie Dobbs will delight in this addition to the series, and those who are new to her have a treat in store. All these mysteries take place in the aftermath of World War I, this one occurring between September and October, 1930. Maisie is a survivor, having enlisted, at seventeen, in the nursing corps, where she served in France in the final, horrific days of the war. A terrible attack, which killed many of the doctors, nurses, and soldiers where she was working, has left her suffering nightmares more than ten years later. Now working as a psychologist/investigator in London, Maisie stays busy to avoid dealing with her demons.

Three mysteries unfold simultaneously. Avril Jarvis, age 13, is arrested for the murder of her "uncle" when she is found with a knife in her hand and blood on her clothes. Penniless, she has no counsel until Maisie takes a case involving Sir Cecil Lawton, whom she persuades to represent Avril as part of her fee. Sir Cecil's son Ralph disappeared during the war in France, and his wife, believing him still alive, has exacted a deathbed promise that Sir Cecil will search for him. In addition, one of Maisie's friends from the Ambulance Corps, now married to a wealthy author in France, has begged her to try to find where the third of her brothers died and was buried in France.

The horrors of World War I pervade the novel, and when Maisie goes to France, these horrors come alive, for both the reader and for Maisie, as she learns she must "slay her dragons" at last.
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