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Book Review: Pardonable Lies

Title: Pardonable Lies

Series: Maisie Dobbs (#3)

Author: Jacqueline Winspear

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (I liked it)

*Warning: spoilers ahead*

This series is all right, and I did like the book, but I think this will be the last Maisie Dobbs novel I read. Ms. Dobbs herself is an interesting character, is well rounded, and has depth. But after three novels in the series, I’m not really feeling the semi-mysticism of how she solves mysteries and tracks down people and gets their stories, and the continuing saga of Maisie’s memories of World War I and coming to terms with the horrors of serving as a nurse on the front in France. In the first book, Maisie Dobbs, that was heart-wrenching and done oh so well. By now, I’m wondering if we can’t move on and let Maisie live in the present (well, her present. Not ours). Then again, I realize that the aftermath of the Great War is kind of the hook of this series, so if I have an issue with it, I don’t have to keep reading.

On to the book itself. The mystery (mysteries, really) kept me hooked all the way through. The book opens with young Avril Jarvis, accused of murder, and Maisie called to the police station in an attempt to get the girl to talk. Very quickly, Maisie has another case to deal with: proving that Ralph Lawton, an airman in the war, did indeed die in the conflict. In telling an old friend about the case, she takes on one more mystery: discovering what exactly happened to Priscilla (the friend)’s brother, who was also lost in the war. Along the way, Maisie’s life is threatened, she must travel to France to solve the mysteries (and to confront her own past), and discover a few details about what exactly her mentor, Maurice Blanche, was up to during the war years.

If it sounds like there’s a lot going on in this book, that’s because there is. Luckily, Winspear is really good at weaving together seemingly disparate threads, and making Maisie Dobbs a likable main character. Granted, the disparate threads only come together because that’s exactly what Maisie specializes in–keeping an open mind and seeing connections few others could.

Could it all be coincidence? No. No. One of her first lessons from Maurice, the one that was repeated time and time again in case after case until it was imprinted on her very soul, was: Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth.

To Maisie and Maurice, there is no such thing as coincidence. Everything is connected, if you only look at life from a different angle, perhaps.

A few other elements I enjoyed: 1) The descriptions of 1920s fashions and clothes are fantastic. 2) The book design. The chapter pages and section breaks are very elegantly done. 3) Winspear is very good at showing post-WWI England and France, and masterfully explains the psyche and trauma of those who went through the war, the scars–both physical and mental–left on survivors both on the homefront and those who served abroad.


(This review was cross-posted to Goodreads.)

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