The child is the mother of the woman

Birds of a Feather
Jacqueline Winspear
Soho Press (2004)

If Maisie Dobbs had had a child, she would have been Flavia de Luce. Now, I know, I know–Flavia has had a perfectly good mother in Harriet. But, readers, really!

Last week I read the second in the Maisie Dobbs series, Birds of a Feather. And while I wasn’t averse to the first Maisie mystery (I don’t think I even reviewed it here) I found it a little … plodding. At least for a whodunit. But I had another reaction altogether when I read the second in the series, Birds of a Feather. It’s obvious why Jacqueline Winspear is up to fifteen novels and counting.

It’s 1930, the Great War is now over a decade behind her, yet Maisie’s world is still reeling from its effects: she continues to mourn (and pay hospital visits to) her comatose fiance Simon, and assistant Billy Beale is dealing with the pain of his injuries in a destructive way. But Maisie still has work to do. In this case, to find the daughter of grocery magnate Joseph Waite. Seems that his daughter Charlotte has disappeared (again, I might add) and it’s Maisie’s job to find her and bring her home to her overbearing father.

In the meantime, however, Charlotte’s friends start showing up dead. All killed the same way: first poisoned by morphine and then stabbed multiple times. Maisie suspects that Charlotte’s disappearance, Waite’s insistence that she return even under force, and the women’s deaths are connected–and she’s off an running.

What gives the Maisie Dobbs novels a bit of … errrrr … novelty is the mystic gift she relies on. Maisie senses–sees–hears things at the crime scene that others cannot. She also practices meditation which calms and centers her and allows her to receive insight that helps solve crimes. A bit of New Age in the Jazz Age. I’ll have no problem picking another Maisie Dobbs mystery when I need a fun read.

But I digress. Maisie Dobbs could very well be the mother of Flavia de Luce, at least in spirit. HOW HAVE I NOT READ ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ON THE INTERWEBS?! The Maisie novels are set in 1930 and the Flavias in the early fifties. Okay, so maybe grandmother instead of mother. But it’s as if the characters are genetically related: independent, out-of-the-box thinking women with unique talents. Women who don’t quite fit their time and place because of their gifts. Women who don’t have much of a filter. And the evolution from Maisie to Flavia makes sense if you think about how one generation changes from the previous. Maisie relied on the metaphysical and Flavia on the physical world of chemistry.

I searched the internet for fan fiction, thinking “Who could pass up such an opportunity?!” But, nothing. All I found was a bunch of “If you liked this, you’ll also like …” posts. I tried to find an interview of the authors–maybe on a panel at some writing conference. Nada. You’re telling me no publisher has ever thought of booking these two headliners together?!

For now, I guess, I’ll dream on my own what mischief these Girl Wonders could conjure up together. What a team they would make!

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