Monday, February 14, 2011

book review: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The backstory: Pardonable Lies is the third Maisie Dobbs mystery novel. I'm reading the entire series as part of Book Club Girl's Maisie Dobbs read-along. My reviews of the first two novels: Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather.

My thoughts: Of the three Maisie Dobbs novels thus far, Pardonable Lies falls somewhere in between the first two in terms of Maisie's personal connection with her case. In some ways, this novel felt like a reversal of the progress made in Birds of a Feather, where the mystery took center stage. Initially, this novel took me a bit longer to get interested in, but I still read it voraciously and enjoyed all of Maisie's adventures, even those unrelated to her cases. Maisie has her hands full with three mysteries, and her quest stirs up many painful war memories and gives her cause to visit France again.

Although the mysteries all ended up being compelling, the narrative of this novel seemed more about Maisie's personal journey to put the demons of war at rest. The theme of this journey appeared throughout the novel with Maisie and other major and minor characters. It was somewhat ominous to witness Maisie overhearing conversations about Hitler, as it's clear to the reader war is on the horizon again, even as everyone seems to be still reeling from the last one.

Ultimately, I appreciated the return to Maisie being the emotional center of the story rather than just an investigator. She's a remarkable character, and I feel an incredibly kinship with her. It is a pet peeve of mine to have an investigator's life put constantly in danger in mysteries, and I hope it does not continue. While perhaps it happens, I find it a ridiculous crutch to always have a bad guy or gal trying to kill the person getting close to the truth. It was my least favorite part of this novel, but it did not hamper by enjoyment.

Favorite passage: "Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth." (Lovely on its own but also a precursor to the next novel, Messenger of Truth?)

The verdict: Although my least favorite Maisie Dobbs novel thus far, I still really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing what Maisie will do next. She remains a favorite fictional character, and I delighted in her presence on the pages, even when this novel lacked some of the suspense and intrigue of its predecessors.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Length: 340 pages
Publication date: July 28, 2005 (it's in paperback now)
Source: my local public library

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  1. Great review Carrie. My husband loves this series, and he had the same reaction to this book as you did...but he will still continue with the series, as he really liked the first two.
    I see that you are reading Devotion; I read it last year, and am interested to see your thoughts on it.
    Enjoy your Valentine's Day :)

  2. Oh, I hope that the series doesn't continue to taper off after this point! I do like the books I have read in this series, but there is just something that keeps me from loving them completely. Great and honest review on this one. It was very appreciated!

  3. Great review and I'm glad that you're going to stick with Maisie. It's so interesting to read a series like this where the character really changes over time - but it's not like, say, Harry Potter where of course the main character is changing, because he's growing up. Perhaps, because Maisie had to grow up so quickly at 13, she's doing a lot of that growing up now, as an adult.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!