Book 3 of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear is called Pardonable Lies. From the author’s website (because I’m lazy, and because this is a fine one) I give you a synopsis:
In the third novel of this unique and masterly crime series, a deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton, KC, 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 also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world. Determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive, Maisie is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission will bring her to France and reunite her with her old friend Priscilla Evernden, who lost three brothers in the war, one of whom has an intriguing connection to the case.
Set against a finely drawn portrait of life between the World Wars, Pardonable Lies is “a thrilling mystery that will enthrall fans of Jacqueline Winspear’s heroine and likely win her new ones” (Detroit Free Press).
This episode involves the rift between Maisie and her mentor, Maurice. I’m not terribly impressed with Maisie’s decision-making in this book. I think it’s a time of growth and learning for her, though. Out of her rift with Maurice comes a greater independence in her own work (which is rather patronizingly and, I thought, unnecessarily explained to us by Winspear), which she did need. But she also showed a stubbornness in this book that endangers her own health and therefore those things she cares so much about: her business, her cases, Billy’s employment. She needs to confess that she’s human, and be willing to accept help when it’s both offered and needed. I was also frustrated with her treatment of Dr. Dene. I know she has precious little experience “walking out with” a man, and her one love affair ended tragically and she’s hurt. Still, I felt that she treated Dene rather cruelly. Surely someone as intuitive as Maisie could come up with more humane behavior towards a man who rather loves her, who she cares for (if less) in return. But I guess that’s the great irony: psychologists with screwy relationships, mechanics whose cars don’t run. Right?
But, I had a good time with Maisie, again; enjoyed the several cases she solved and the puzzles she unriddled. I thought the case of Avril was interesting, but I especially enjoyed the cases of the two missing soldiers. I think Winspear’s best subject matter may be the war and it’s painful aftermath; perhaps that’s why these were such powerful, moving stories. That, and I love Priscilla and enjoy getting to know her family.
Although I am very, very late, I am heading over to Book Club Girl‘s website to join the discussion about this book, so come on over there with me if you like. On Monday, March 14, I’ll be posting, and we’ll be discussing, An Incomplete Revenge. Next up (in order, and on time!) I’ll be reading-along book 6 of the Maisie series, Among the Mad. Stay tuned!