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Pardonable Lies
A Maisie Dobbs Novel, No. 3

by Jacqueline Winspear

      Before reading it, I had somehow gotten the impression this series was light and fluffy cozies. Boy was I wrong. These are somewhat unique in being psychological traditional mysteries in a genre where psychological is always paired with suspense or thriller. Maisie Dobbs calls herself an Investigator and Psychologist. And while she engages in real detection to solve real mysteries, the real focus is examining people -why they are who they are and act as they do, and how that has ripple effects and consequences for themselves and others. Including Maisie herself.

All of the series entries involve multiple cases that end up being intertwined in varied ways, even if only in what they reveal about human nature. Pardonable Lies revolves around an abused young teenager likely to be convicted of a murder she can't remember if she committed or not, the reported war death of the son of a solicitor who seems burdened with something -but not grief for his son, and the search for closure about the disappearance during the war of the brother of one of Maisie's best friends. Maisie was in the war herself and becomes increasingly aware that searching for closure for others is going to mean lancing open her own mental wounds from that time for good or evil. While the risks to her mental state are matched by threats to her physical health from a series of incidents that those around her seem to think are just accidents, possibly caused by her own strained mental state.

This is a rich read of many layers in a series that just keeps getting better. The depiction of post WWI France and England is solid and believable. There are multiple mysteries with a lovely mixture of obvious and not so obvious answers, red herrings, and twists and turns to the end that leave you nicely satisfied when they're done. But mostly, there are the people. Real, complex people rather than mere puppets to serve the play; a varied cast that you grow to know in greater and greater depth and will remember long afterward. Highly recommended.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Pardonable Lies, No 3
Messenger of Truth, No 4
An Incomplete Revenge, No 5
A Lesson in Secrets, No 8

The Book

Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
August 10, 2005
Historical Mystery
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2005
© 2005