Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pardonable Lies, by Jacqueline Winspear ($15)

This is the third novel in the Maisie Dobbs series. Jacqueline Winspear has created a unique look at England after World War I through the eyes of a young woman. Maisie was born to a costermonger and his wife. When Maisie's mother died, her father put her into the service of a well-to-do household. Lady Compton realized the potential in young Maisie and sponsored her education and leap into higher society. Now a psychologist, Maisie's thoughtful approach means she helps people through their crises and then with accepting the resolutions.

The pardonable lies of the title involve secrets held long and close by people torn from their families by the war. Secret #1: A lawyer whose son was killed during the war seeks confirmation of his son's death because of a deathbed request by his wife. He doesn't really want to know about his son, and Maisie must learn why. Secret #2: One of Maisie's college friends, now a mother of three, wants to know what really happened to her brother, another casualty of the war. Secret #3: Maisie's beloved mentor Maurice Blanche is somehow tangled up in the whole shebang. Can he no longer be trusted?

There is a modicum of woo-woo shenanigans in the current tale. A while ago, Maisie and Maurice had investigated mediums and other scam artists who parasitically lived off the tragedy of others. In her search for the lawyer's son, Maisie encounters another medium, one whose powers seem eerily genuine, and Maisie's own "intuitive" powers are brought up. This storyline seems dubious and a little gratuitous to me. Maisie is such a strong character that her tale would be just fine without reverting to supernatural interjections.

Maybe I'm suffering from Maisie-fatigue, but the stories seemed too improbable. Woo-woo and spies. I think not.

Nevertheless, I am still a fan of the series, despite this weak entry, and will continue to make my way through it.

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