Summary and book reviews of Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Pardonable Lies

By Jacqueline Winspear

Pardonable Lies
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2005,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2006,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

In the third novel of this bestselling series, London investigator Maisie Dobbs faces grave danger as she returns to the site of her most painful WWI memories to resolve the mystery of a pilot's death

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone. Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe. Every once in a while, a detective bursts on the scene who captures readers' hearts -- and imaginations -- and doesn't let go. And so it was with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, who made her debut just two years ago in the eponymously titled first book of the series, and is already on her way to becoming a household name.

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war -- one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton.

Following on the heels of the triumphant Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is the most compelling installment yet in the chronicles of Maisie Dobbs, "a heroine to cherish (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review).

PART ONE

London, September 1930


ONE

The young policewoman stood in the corner of the room. Plain whitewashed walls, a heavy door, a wooden table with two chairs, and one small window with frosted glass rendered the room soulless. It was a cold afternoon and she'd been in the corner since coming on duty two hours ago, her only company the rumpled and bent girl sitting in the chair that faced the wall. Others had come into the room to sit in the second chair: first, Detective Inspector Richard Stratton, with Detective Sergeant Caldwell standing behind him; then Stratton standing while a doctor from the Maudsley Hospital sat before the girl, trying to get her to speak. The girl—no one knew her age or where she had come from because she hadn't spoken a word since she was brought in this morning, her bloodstained dress, hands and face showing a month's worth of dirt—was now waiting for another person who had been summoned to question her: a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Three significant figures in Pardonable Lies -- Avril Jarvis, Pascale Clement, and the younger Maisie Dobbs of the detective's own tormented recollections -- are all about thirteen years old. Why does the novel choose this moment in the three girls' growth and development as a focal point for observation? Do the three girls have anything in common apart from age?
  2. Although a number of mothers, including Agnes Lawton, Irene Nelson, Mrs. Jarvis, and Maisie's own mother, are essentially absent as characters, they exert profound influence over events in the novel. What is the significance of the theme of the absent mother in Pardonable Lies?
  3. In quite a few classic detective novels, including The ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

If you're a fan of quality period fiction and have not yet discovered Jacqueline Winspear you must, absolutely must, hurry down to your bookstore or library and pick yourself up a copy of Pardonable Lies (or one her two earlier books) at your earliest opportunity; the plot of each book stands alone and Winspear provides sufficient backstory in each that you can dip into the series at any point.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (343 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Winspear writes seamlessly, enriching the whole with vivid details of English life on a variety of social levels.

Detroit Free Press

A thrilling mystery that will enthrall fans of Jacqueline Winspear's heroine and likely win her new ones.

Bookreporter.com

Following on the heels of the triumphant Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is the most compelling installment yet in the chronicles of Maisie Dobbs

Reader Reviews
Cloggie Downunder

enthralling historical mystery
Pardonable Lies is the third book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, uses her unique skills to tease from a thirteen-year-old girl the circumstances of her “...   Read More

Carolyn Y. Goldfarb

An intrepid heroine gains a reader
This is my second Maisie Dobbs read and although longer in length than the first one I read (A Lesson in Secrets), I enjoyed it even more because of the inclusion of another country (France) and forays into the personal history of the heroine. In ...   Read More

Bob Vianello

Pardonable Lies
A good plot, but the book is about twice as long as it needs to be. What characters wear is of no interest to the reader. Too many sub plots. It would probably be a very good book if it was condensed by the publishers of Readers Digest Condensed ...   Read More

Melissa

Likeable Characters
I find that I thoroughly enjoy the Maise Dobbs series via audio books! I can't say it's my favorite series, but Winspear has gotten me hooked on following the life of Maise. The suspense isn't all that suspenseful, the mystery not all that ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Series so far
Maisie Dobbs
(2003)
Birds of a Feather (2004)
Pardonable Lies (2005)
Messenger of Truth (Aug 2006)

The year is 1930 and it's been more than a year since Maisie Dobbs first hung up her shingle as a private investigator  She is a perceptive observer of human nature and, most important for her line of work, she is able to move smoothly between the classes - a useful skill  in the still highly class-stratified England of the inter-war period.  Her ability in this area is due ...

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