Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs Series #3)

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"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 also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world." Maisie accepts the assignment - determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive - and in doing so is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, as well as her regard
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"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 also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world." Maisie accepts the assignment - determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive - and in doing so is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A dying plea spurs Maisie Dobbs's tantalizing investigation. Agnes Lawton never truly believed that her beloved aviator son, Ralph, had died on a World War I battlefield. Now on her deathbed, she implores her knighted husband to find the truth about her offspring's disappearance. For psychologist/detective Dobbs, the case has troubling personal dimensions. Her search not only forces her to grapple with her own painful memories of the Great War; it leads her to doubt the merits of her mentor, Maurice Blanche.
Marilyn Stasio
As long as she doesn't turn into a total saint, Maisie is a sleuth to treasure.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Agatha-winner Winspear's engrossing third Maisie Dobbs novel maintains the high quality of its predecessors, Maisie Dobbs (2003) and Birds of a Feather (2004). In late 1930, the London "psychologist and investigator" gets involved in three cases: proving the innocence of a 13-year-old farm girl, Avril Jarvis, accused of murder; undertaking a search for Sir Cecil Lawton's only son, a pilot shot down behind enemy lines in WWI, whose body was never recovered; and looking into the circumstances of the death of her university friend Priscilla Evernden Partridge's brother in France during the war. Maisie must go back to the region where, 13 years earlier, she served as a nurse, and confront her memories of mud, blood and loss. Filled with convincing characters, this is a complex tale of healing, of truth and half-truth, of long-held secrets, some, perhaps, to be held forever. Winspear writes seamlessly, enriching the whole with vivid details of English life on a variety of social levels. Agent, Amy Rennert. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A pilot's death forces London investigator Dobbs to face the trauma of her World War I memories, as well as grave danger in this third volume of the best-selling series. Winspear lives in Southern California. With a 12-city author tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-It is 1930 and Maisie Dobbs has been operating her detective cum psychiatric agency for more than a year. Her mentor, Maurice Blanche, a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, has retired and she has been successful on her own. But a new case threatens to take her back to a place she has been trying to forget: France, where she was a nurse during the Great War. She has been hired by a successful QC (Queen's Counsel) to prove that his only son did die in the war and was not still alive as his recently deceased wife believed. The case seems to pit her against Blanche, and she becomes as fearful of him as of the strange man following her. This case and one she casually takes on for a friend seem to converge frighteningly, and she is emotionally and physically exhausted by the time she wraps them up. Teens will get a great feel for the time between the World Wars and the social and economic milieu as the Depression approaches and the losses of 1914-'18 seem more trenchant. Maisie is indomitable and inspiring, and she must try to find space in her increasingly busy life for her father and her beau while helping her clients to deal with the scars they carry. A thought-provoking series entry, the story contains revelations of secret missions, homosexuality, the lives of persons from all layers of society, and a winning heroine who is not perfect and is willing to learn from her mistakes.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"In Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear has given us a real gift. Maisie Dobbs has not been created—she has been discovered. Such people are always there amongst us, waiting for somebody like Ms. Winspear to come along and reveal them. And what a revelation it is!"—Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series

"Maisie is a sleuth to treasure."—The New York Times Book Review

"Maisie's most assured outing to date . . . The mood and atmosphere of the period ring with authenticity, and the class tension that underlies many of Maisie's dealings lends the narrative extra sparkle."—San Francisco Chronicle

"For readers yearning for the calm and insightful intelligence of a main character like P. D. James's Cordelia Gray, Maisie Dobbs is spot-on."—The Boston Globe

"A prim 1930s British gumshoe is one of the freshest, most modern heroines in recent memory. Maisie Dobbs takes her place in the upper echelon of literary female detectives, right next to Kinsey Millhone and Kay Scarpetta. . . . Pardonable Lies is as stylish as a whodunit gets."—BookPage

"I couldn't put the book down and rushed out right away to get the other two. Maisie Dobbs is a joy."—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Will thoroughly delight existing fans and should garner her new ones . . . Winspear carefully crafts each sentence, building toward a thrilling and emotional conclusion."—Library Journal

"If you haven't read the Maisie Dobbs stories, you are missing a treat."—The Ledger Independent (Kentucky)

"Fans of Miss Marple and Precious Ramotswe are sure to embrace Maisie, a pitch-perfect blend of compassion and panache."—Booklist

"To give an idea of how much I liked Pardonable Lies, I immediately went to my local bookstore and ordered the first two in the series. Long live Maisie Dobbs!"—Mystery News

"Maisie is immediately captivating. . . . Dobbs ponders the mysteries of life as well as the mysteries she is hired to solve. . . . Surprisingly eloquent, evening moving."—Saint Paul Pioneer Press

"Jacqueline Winspear's historical mysteries prove exactly what this subgenre can achieve, offering a prism of the past and a mirror of the future. . . . Fascinating."—Sun-Sentinel

"A fine examination of a young woman making her way amid the economic and social dislocations of 1930s Britain . . . Pardonable Lies is a reflection, a meditation even, on how those of us who have experienced war carry with us the scars that can reopen in an instant."—The Sunday Patriot-News

"Winspear again treats us to a story broad in scope and rich in detail and suspense. . . . An excellent series."—The Orange County Register

"Filled with convincing characters, this is a complex tale of healing, of truth and half-truth, of long-held secrets, some, perhaps, to be held forever. Winspear writes seamlessly, enriching the whole with vivid details of English life on a variety of social levels."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Winspear twists the suspense to a high pitch in this dark and moody tale that will please newcomers to the series as well as Winspear's many fans."—Rocky Mountain News

The New York Times

Startlingly original...A deft debut novel...Be prepared to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641863882
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/10/2005
  • Series: Maisie Dobbs Series, #3
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of two previous Maisie Dobbs novels, Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, both BookSense selections. A New York Times Notable Book, Maisie Dobbs has been nominated for seven awards, including the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel. The novel won the Agatha and Macavity Awards, as well as the Alex Award for an adult novel suitable for young adults. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in Southern California.

Orlagh Cassidy is the winner of the 2009 Best Voice in Children & Family Listening and the 2008 and 2011 Best Voice in Mystery & Suspense. She's narrated for Jacqueline Winspear, James Patterson, Erica Spindler, Beth Harbison, and Frank Herbert, among others.


Lovers of British mysteries and historical novels will find something to appreciate in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books. Maisie, a housemaid-turned-student-turned-nurse-turned private investigator in early 20th-century London, manages to straddle Britain's class system by being a woman of exceptional "bearing" and intellect who happens to come from working-class stock. As an investigator, she's green, but sharp and ambitious. She's also surrounded by vividly sketched secondary players, such as her benefactor, Lady Rowan, and mentor Maurice Blanche.

In Winspear's first Maisie story, we learn the character's background: Forced by family circumstances to go to work as a housemaid at an early age, Maisie Dobbs' curiosity and intellect are noticed by her employer, Lady Rowan. Rowan takes care of her education, and she makes it to university – but the Great War interrupts her ambitions. She serves as a nurse in France, then returns to England and starts her career as a private investigator in 1929. Her first case seems like a simple investigation into infidelity; it grows into something larger when it leads realizes there's something amiss at a convalescent home for war veterans called The Retreat.

Winspear's talent didn't go unnoticed when her first novel was published in July 2003. Maisie Dobbs was named in "best" lists in both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. It was also nominated in the best novel category for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. There was an almost palpable sense of relief in the reviews, pleasant surprise that someone had offered not only a solid addition to the historical mystery genre, but had given it further depth and breadth. As an NPR reviewer put it, "[The book's] intelligent eccentricity offers relief."

Telling Maisie's stories using a warm third-person narrator, Winspear charms with her ability to convey the historical context surrounding her characters, particularly regarding the impact of the Great War. For this reason, and because her mysteries steer clear of graphic violence or sex, her books are often recommended for younger readers also. Far from hardboiled, Winspear's characters are very human, and she delivers a little romance and heartache along with the criminal wrongdoing.

Part of the appeal in Winspear's books also lies in her ability to bring a deeper, more philosophical atmosphere to the proceedings. Maisie is trained in Freudian psychology and is as interested in helping as she is in solving. A case referenced in the second Maisie story, Birds of a Feather, for example, "would not be filed away until those whose lives were touched by her investigation had reached a certain peace with her findings, with themselves, and with one another." Reading Winspear's Dobbs series may not bring inner peace, but there is something relaxing about spending time with her appealing characters.

Good To Know

Winspear also works as a creative coach. She writes on her web site, "As a coach I am engaged by those who want to establish clear intentions for their artistic endeavors, to support and encourage so that they sustain a level of energy and empowerment which is demonstrated in work that is rewarding, inspiring -- and finished!" Winspear also writes about international education.

Winspear loves outdoor pursuits such as horseback riding, hiking, sailing, and mountain biking; she's also an avid traveler, according to her web site bio.

In our interview, Winspear shared some fun facts about herself:

"My first ever job after college was as a flight attendant. I wanted to travel and could not afford it, so I decided to get myself a job where I could travel. I did it for two years and had great fun."

"My worst-ever job was in an egg-packing factory when I was 16."

"I love dogs, horses and generally all animals. I will always stop to check on stray dogs -- I once ended up in the emergency room with a tick embedded in me which had jumped off a dog I had rescued from a busy road. It was a deer tick, which carries Lyme Disease, so I wasn't taking any chances. Funnily enough, when I opened the only magazine in the emergency room, it was to a page carrying an article on tick bites and disease. It stated that you have six hours after the tick embeds itself, before it begins to release the bacteria that cause disease. I counted the hours from rescuing the dog, and by the time the doctor came in I was pleading, ‘Get this thing out of me!!!'"

"My favorite way to unwind is to go for a walk with my husband and the dog at the end of the working day, then we go to our local health club for a swim and to sit by the pool and read for a while. I love time with family and friends, but completely relish time on my own when I have no agenda to follow, no to-do's, just me and time alone."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jackie Winspear
    2. Hometown:
      Ojai, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 30, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Weald of Kent, England
    1. Education:
      The University of London’s Institute of Education
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Pardonable Lies

A Maisie Dobbs Novel

By Winspear, Jacqueline


Copyright © 2006

Winspear, Jacqueline

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0312426216

Chapter 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 Miss Maisie Dobbs. The policewoman had heard of Maisie Dobbs, but with what she had seen today, she wasn't sure that anyone could get this young scrubber to talk.
The policewoman heard voices outside the door: Stratton and Caldwell and then another voice. A smooth voice. A voice that was neither loud nor soft, that did not need to be raised to be heard or, thought the policewoman, toget someone to listen.
The door opened and Stratton came in, followed by a woman she presumed to be Maisie Dobbs. The policewoman was surprised, for the woman was nothing like she had expected, but then she realized that the voice had revealed little about the owner, except that it had depth without being deep.
Wearing a plain burgundy suit with black shoes and carrying a worn black leather document case, the visitor smiled at both the policewoman and Stratton in a way that almost startled the uniformed woman, as her eyes met the midnight-blue eyes of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator.
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Chalmers," said Maisie, though they had not been introduced. The warm familiarity of the greeting took Chalmers aback. "Brrr. It's cold in here," added the investigator, turning to Stratton. "Inspector, can we bring in an oil stove? Just to take the edge off?"
Stratton raised an eyebrow and inclined his head at the unusual nature of the request. Amused at seeing her superior caught off guard, Chalmers tried to hide a grin, and the seated girl looked up, just for a second, because the woman's voice compelled her to do so.
"Good. Thank you, Inspector. Oh--and perhaps a chair for Miss Chalmers." Maisie Dobbs removed her gloves, placing them on top of the black bag, which she set on the floor, before pulling a chair around so that she was seated not opposite the girl, on the other side of the table, but close to her.
Strange, thought Chalmers, as the door opened and a constable brought in another chair, left the room, and returned with a small paraffin stove, which he placed by the wall. They exchanged quick glances and shrugged shoulders.
"Thank you," said Maisie, smiling.
And they knew she had seen their furtive communication.
Now, sitting alongside the girl, Maisie said nothing. She said nothing for some time, so that after a while Chalmers wondered what in heaven's name she was there for. Then she realized that the Dobbs woman had closed her eyes and had changed her position slowly, and though she couldn't put her finger on it, it was as if she were talking to the girl without opening her mouth, so that the girl--as if she couldn't help herself--leaned toward Maisie Dobbs. Blimey, she's going to talk.
"I'm getting warmer now." It was a rounded voice, a west-country voice. The girl spoke deliberately, with rolled r's and a nod when her sentence was finished. A farm girl. Yes, Chalmers would have pegged her for a farm girl.
But Maisie Dobbs said nothing, just opened her eyes and smiled, but not with her mouth. No, it was her eyes that smiled. Then she touched the girl's hand, taking it in her own. The girl began to cry and, very strange again, thought Chalmers, the Dobbs woman didn't reach out to put an arm around her shoulder, or try to stop her or use the moment as Stratton and Caldwell might have. No, she just sat and nodded, as if she had all the time in the world. Then she surprised the policewoman again.
"Miss Chalmers. Would you be so kind as to poke your head around the door and ask for a bowl of hot water, some soap, two flannels, and a towel, please."
Chalmers gave a single nod and moved toward the door. Oh, this would surely give the girls something to chew over later. They'd all have a giggle about this little pantomime.
A bowl of hot water was brought to the room by the police constable, along with the flannels, soap, and towel. Maisie removed her jacket, placed it over the back of the chair, and rolled up the sleeves of her cream silk blouse. Reaching into the bowl, she rubbed some soap on a wet flannel and squeezed out the excess water. Then she lifted the girl's chin, smiled into her reddened and bloodshot eyes, and began to wash her face, rinsing the flannel and going back again, dabbing the hot cloth on the girl's temples and across her forehead. She washed her arms, holding first her left hand in the hot flannel and working the cloth up to her elbow, then reaching for the girl's right hand. The girl flinched, but Maisie showed no sign of noticing the movement, instead massaging her right hand with the cloth, gently working it along her arm to the elbow, and then rinsing again.
It was as she knelt on the floor, taking one filthy bare foot after the other and washing the dirt and grime away with the second flannel, that the policewoman realized she had become mesmerized by the scene unfolding before her. It's like being in church.
The girl spoke again. "You've got right soft 'ands, miss."
Maisie Dobbs smiled. "Thank you. I used to be a nurse, years ago, in the war. That's what the soldiers used to say: that my hands were soft."
The girl nodded.
"What's your name?"
Chalmers stared as the girl--who had been sitting in that room without so much as a cup of tea since she was brought in twelve hours ago--replied immediately.
"Avril Jarvis, miss."
"Where are you from?"
"Taunton, miss." She began to sob.
Maisie Dobbs reached into the black bag and brought out a clean linen handkerchief, which she placed on the table in front of the girl. Chalmers waited for Maisie to take out a sheet of paper to write notes, but she didn't; instead she simply continued with her questions as she finished drying the girl's feet.
"How old are you, Avril?"
"Fourteen next April, I reckon."
Maisie smiled. "Tell me, why are you in London and not Taunton?"
Avril Jarvis sobbed continuously as Maisie folded the towel and sat next to her again. But she did answer the question, along with every other question put to her over the next hour, at which point Maisie said that was enough for now; she would be taken care of and they would speak again tomorrow--only Detective Inspector Stratton would have to hear her story too. Then, adding fuel to the tale that Chalmers would tell the other policewomen lodging in rooms upstairs at Vine Street, the Jarvis girl nodded and said, "All right, then. Just so long as you'll be with me, miss."
"Yes. I'll be here. Don't worry. You can rest now, Avril."
Copyright 2005 by Jacqueline Winspear. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from Pardonable Lies
by Winspear, Jacqueline
Copyright © 2006 by Winspear, Jacqueline.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

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 develop-ment 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 Maltese Falcon and Farewell, My Lovely, homosexual characters experience violent or disrespectful treatment. Does the treatment of homosexuality in Pardonable Lies fundamentally differ from that in older detective fictions? How and why?

4. Compare Maisie’s current relationship with Dr. Andrew Dene and the role that her crippled ex-lover Simon continues to play in her life. Which is more important to Maisie, and why?

5. Maisie lied about her age to go to war and now routinely risks her life as a private investi-gator. Nevertheless, Priscilla Evernden observes that Maisie has "kept to the safe places." Is she right? Explain.

6. Many of the characters in Pardonable Lies, including Maurice Blanche, Ralph Lawton, Jeremy Hazleton, and Maisie herself, engage in elaborate deceptions. Is there a deception in the novel that you consider less "pardonable" than the others? Why?

7. Is there a deception in the novel that you consider more "pardonable" than the others? Why?

8. Like Jacqueline Winspear’s previous novels, Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, Pardon-able Lies is haunted by inescapable memories of World War I. In a sense, the war is the great crime from which the legal offenses and ethical transgressions of Winspear’s novels are the offshoots. How are the webs of falsehood and deception in this novel a response to the experiences and traumas of war? Do the lies in the novel make the aftermath of the war easier to bear, or do they compound the war’s original immorality?

9. Although Jacqueline Winspear frequently focuses on the physical and psychological scars of warfare, Pardonable Lies offers instances of something beautiful or noble that has emerged from the horror. Examples include the birth of Pascale Clement and Ralph Lawton’s heroic service in the Flying Corps. How does the novel’s introduction of these silver linings enrich or complicate Winspear’s depiction of the war and its aftermath?

10. Maisie often uses her training as a psychologist to take decisive control of a situation. Nevertheless, she sometimes experiences social situations in which she feels a lack of control. What are some of these situations, and why does she find them daunting?

11. The daughter of a costermonger, Maisie has risen somewhat above the limitations often encountered by members of her class. However, issues pertaining to class persist in the novel. Compare Jacqueline Winspear’s treatment of aristocratic characters like Sir Cecil Lawton and Priscilla Evernden with her rendering of characters like Billy Beale and Lady Rowan’s servants.

12. Maisie, who gives such extraordinary courage and support to others, must continually battle an inner sense of her own inadequacy. What are the sources of this feeling, and does she triumph over it?

13. Maisie knows a great deal about comforting others. Consider, however, the persons from whom she derives comfort. Do they have anything in common? To whom does she turn for particular kinds of support, and why?

14. In Chapter 8, Maisie asks herself, "What do I believe in?" Is this question answered in the novel? Does Maisie have beliefs that either strengthen or hinder her in her work or in her life?

15. Jacqueline Winspear offers a number of detailed descriptions of her characters’ clothing. Given that Maisie is such a cerebral character, highly focused on the inner workings of the mind and heart, what may be the purpose of such external descriptions in the novel?

16. What role do Maisie’s nightmares play in the unfolding of the plot and her character?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A more vulnerable Maisie

    The third Maisie Dobbs novel, Pardonable Lies, is a bigger book, and delves more deeply into Maisie's past and her personal life. When a man asks Psychologist/Private Investigator Maisie Dobbs to help him fulfill a deathbed promise to his wife to find out if their son, who was declared killed during World War I was really dead, Maisie takes the case.

    Coincidentally, Maisie's friend Priscilla has come for a visit and asks Maisie to find out the circumstances behind her brother Peter's wartime death in France. Maisie and Priscilla both served in France during the war, and Maisie was wounded in an incident that caused her boyfriend to become brain damaged. He now lives in a permanent vegetative state in a hospital.

    All this shakes Maisie, and she reluctantly takes the cases, and heads back to France to face her demons. The scene where Maisie is in the cemetery where so many men lost their lives during the war is emotionally powerful, and reveals a new level of depth to Maisie. All the horrors of war come rushing back, and Maisie is overcome with emotion.

    I think many people who have faced trauma will understand Maisie's experience. Maisie has been presented as a character so in control of her emotions, this incident makes her more vulnerable.

    Wisnpear ratchets up the tension in this novel as it appears that someone is trying to kill Maisie. Who and why this is happening is a puzzle, as there is more than one suspect.

    The title, Pardonable Lies, refers to a few things. Maisie and her mentor Dr. Maurice Blanche have a falling out when Maisie discovers that he hid from her some aspects of his intelligence work during the war. This rift is important, and I wonder if it will permanently affect their relationship.

    Maisie is very scrupulous, and her integrity is paramount to her. When she discovers two secrets related to Priscilla's brother and her client's son, she has to decide which is more important- protecting someone or telling the truth. Her internal struggle makes for a powerful story.

    I'm enjoying getting to better know Maisie through these novels. In this one, we see Maisie struggle more with her emotions, having to face her past. I liked her friendship with Priscilla, unique because Maisie doesn't seem to have many friends her own age.

    I also like getting historical context. Following World War I, when ships were no longer needed for battle, many of them were converted for pleasure travel. Although the world financial depression hurt the economy, travel to the Riviera, Africa and the Mediterranean became cheaper and easier. This opened up the world to many people who hadn't traveled much before.

    Pardonable Lies gives us a deeper look at Maisie's life and I found it the strongest of the series so far. This series would be great for high school girls, Maisie is a terrific role model.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2014

    Pardonable Lies is the third book in the Maisie Dobbs series by

    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 “uncle’s” death. Avril Jarvis is the prime suspect, but Maisie doubts her guilt, and sends Billy Beale to Avril’s hometown of Taunton to do some investigating. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Compton asks aisie to take on a case for a friend, Sir Cecil Lawton, QC. Maisie’s brief is to confirm that Cecil’s son, Ralph, died in a plane crash in France during the Great War, some 13 years ago. A reunion with her college friend, Priscilla Partridge (nee Evernden) sees Maisie also agreeing to establish the fate of her eldest brother, Peter, ostensibly another Great War casualty. After some initial research into Ralph Lawton’s background in England, Maisie reluctantly travels to France, the scene of her own wartime traumas. Her mentor, Maurice Blanche, insists on accompanying her, a move Maisie finds rather unsettling; she is unsettled, too, by several incidents which lead her to believe her life is in danger. Once again, the narration proceeds at a deliberate pace to cement a plot with several twists. While some details soon become obvious, there are a few intriguing surprises in store for the reader. Maisie’s trust in Maurice is compromised; she is involved in accidents in her beloved MG; poisoned chocolates, missing War Office records, a popular politician, secret passages, a gay men’s club, psychics and a secret diary all feature. As always, Winspear creates a 1930’s world that feels authentic, including rumblings about Nazi Germany. She continues to fill out the background of her regular characters in this enthralling historical mystery.  

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Enjoy This Series

    To be honest, I read the first two of the series via the library (on ebooks) but they didn't have the third. I guess it says something that I bought it!

    Not great literature but I enjoy the view into post WWI England and Maisie and Billy are good company. The plots are well done but they are only part of the story. The development of the two characters, their lives and growth as people is part of it too.

    However, I'll be getting book 4 at the library. These are a little light -- and are such quick reads -- that I'm not tempted to continue purchasing them at $10 a pop.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2015

    Highly Recommend Maisie Dobbs Series

    I have now read five books in this series and am looking forward to reading book #6! I thoroughly enjoy the main character, and I believe that the author has written Maisie in many layers, not just the superficial. The supporting characters are well written from Maisie's assistant to her father. Lastly, the fact that you catch clues throughout the books, but not "who dunnit " until the very end is another plus for me. If you enjoy a series with characters that change and grow, as well as a mystery set within a historic period (1920-1930s), these books are for you. Read and enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2015

    Great book

    She's so intelligent and the books really well written. I loved how it can together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2014

    So much history related to WWI and it's aftermath included in th

    So much history related to WWI and it's aftermath included in this mystery novel. With several cases being investigated by the sleuth, Maisie Dobbs, the author juggles it all to make for a fascinating read! I had to reread this one after reading the sequels.

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  • Posted September 23, 2012

    Truly an outstanding series. This edition (#3 in the series) pre

    Truly an outstanding series. This edition (#3 in the series) presents a more "polished," sensitive, and engaging Maisie. This an absolutely TERRIFIC read, the mystery is engrossing, and the book is hihly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    Great Read

    Great read - Winspear's historical info on WW1 and the toll the war reaped on the population make it a bittersweet story, but one that captures your interest.

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  • Posted June 18, 2012

    Nicely done...

    A very well written book about Maisie's trials and tribulations and haunting ghosts of her war experiences. Quite a story which hung together very nicely. Enjoyed the exprience and the characters that seemed to come to life with every page. Not normally read this sort of thing, but it kept me turning the pages, and looking forward to picking the book up again and again. I highly recommend this experience to others.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Maisie faces her deamons

    Winspear, a masterful storyteller, sends her detective back to France to finally face all the bottled up feelings about her time there, her lost love, and the terrible loss of humanity that she witnessed there. Her involvement in at least two major cases are brought along with her other baggage on this trip, and their resolution brings to light two terrible wrongs, and while one remains hidden, the other opens a new world for her own relations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Great installment in the series

    Mazie is a great character in interesting settings wtih involving plots. Keep writing, Ms. Winspear!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    I wanted to like it, but...

    I really wanted to enjoy Pardonable Lies, bit it wasn't to be. The plot was dull, the characters insipid, not one that I cared for, and the book was sooooo sloooow moving. I probably could have accepted all that if the flavor of the 1930s Deco period had been captured, but it wasn't. Read Christie's Hercule Poirot instead. I'd call Pardonable Lies a near miss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    Pardonable Lies

    When things happen, they happen in threes. So Maisie Dobbs learns when she takes a case to help a child accused of murder, a sort of double case dealing with soldiers killed in the war, and trying to find out who was trying to kill her. The child accused of murder is a girl barely thirteen forced into street walking. Of the two soldiers one was the brother of Maisie's best friend and the other was the son of an MP who promised to settle the question of whether boy still lived or not. Lastly, the killer surfaced as Maisie began her investigations. Was it connected to the case. Talented Jacquenline Winspear has written a story that will keep you reading. You will thoroughly enjoy meeting Maisie and the other characters while stepping back in time. A series of subplots woven into the fabric of the whole make for a satisfying and pleasant read. A touch of the paranormal added to the mix of mystery and romance give it a flavor to set it apart from the ordinary mystery. Any reader will find this deserves the title, cozy, even though it doesn't follow all the rules. You'll be looking for other books by this very able author. I know I will.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    Superb historical mystery

    In 1930 psychologist sleuth Maisie Dobbs feels a bit overworked as she gets caught up with three situations. First she believes that thirteen yeas old Taunton farm girl Avril Jarvis is innocent of the murder the police accuse her of committing she sends her assistant Billy Beale to Taunton to gather information on the teen. Second, Sir Cecil Lawton asks her to help find the body of his son, Ralph, an RFC pilot shot down in 1917 behind enemy lines, but his body never came home his wife, who just died, extracted a deathbed vow from Cecil to bring their son home. Finally her Girton University friend Priscilla Partridge nee Evernden asks Maisie to look into the death of her brother Peter in France. Maisie reluctantly agrees her hesitation is personal as she hates having to go back to where she drove an ambulance in 1915 while working for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and fell in love with Dr. Simon Lynch, whose war injuries left his mind and body incapacitated. --- The third Dobbs historical mystery (see MAISIE DOBBS and BIRDS OF A FEATHER) is a terrific entry as once again the heroine works on cases that involve people still traumatized by WWI over a decade after the hostilities ended. The key characters in the WWI cases still need healing. On top of looking back through time, Maisie also has the ¿modern day¿ case involving the teen farm girl. Life in 1930 England and to a degree via half-truth memories and the investigations of WW I England and France come vividly and freshly to life as Jacqueline Winspear spins a delightful tale. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2006


    A keep-you-on-your-toes book full of surprises with mysteries that all link together in some sort of way!!! Winspeare has outdone herself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2005


    Those who had the good fortune to read or hear the first story in Jacqueline Winspear's acclaimed Maisie Dobbs series (Maisie Dobbs 2003) were immediately won by an indomitable heroine. Many will remember that the year was 1929 and Maisie had a rather inauspicious beginning in her professional life - she worked as a housemaid. However, by dint of courage, determination and a supportive employer she is able to attend Cambridge. Soon after she volunteers as a nurse and serves in France during the Great War. Following that experience she becomes an investigator, tending to clients in postwar England. Little did she think she would return to France, especially to the site where she witnessed such carnage, but when she is hired by Sir Cecil Dobbs to investigate his son's death during the War she finds herself on fields of battle again. Sir Cecil's wife is dying and she does not believe their son actually died as his body has never been recovered. This is not the only perplexity facing Maisie - she has reason to question her friend and mentor, Maurice Blanche and feels compelled to prove the innocence of a teenage farm girl accused of murder. In a bonus interview on these audio books author Winspear refers to those who lost loved ones during the War by saying, '....I wanted to bring that spirit, that strength, to the character of Maisie Dobbs, along with a sense of a woman who has seen death of the most terrible kind, who has loved and lost, and who came of age when women showed extraordinary resolve.' She did all of this. Broadway and television actress Orlagh Cassidy offers a moving performance on the Unabridged Edition, while the author delivers an equaling affecting reading on the Abridged Edition. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2005



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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2005


    I loved this book. Read all 3 of this series within the same week. Thought Maisie Dobbs was good, but a bit dark and macbre. Thought Birds of a Feather was wonderful and Pardonable Lies is equally as good. Maisie, psychologist/investigator took on a case for Sir Cecil Lawton to discover if in fact his son had been killed in the airplane crash during WW one in France. Sir Cecil promised his wife on her death bed that he would try to find the truth re their son. At the same time, while doing some work for Scotland Yard, Maisie was brought in on a case involving a young girl accused of murdering a man. She felt the girl was innocent and asked that Sir Cecil, counsil at law, take her case in lieu of half of Maisie's fee. He agreed. Along with these 2 cases, her college friend Pris, now living with husband and 3 sons in France, asked if Maisie would investigate the death of her brother who was said to be killed in the war. Maisie's mentor, Maurice Blanche advised her not to take on the cases, but she did as she felt obligations on all fronts. As both men were said to be killed in France, it would be necessary for her to return there and face her own dragons of a war where she served as a nurse and her love was physically and mentally damaged. As she gets further involved in the cases, there are several threats to her life. What makes this such a compelling story is that Maisie is so skilled in her ability to analyze people and seek truth. She is so likeable, very intense and determined. In the end truth is discovered in areas she didn't even dream about, but she is able to bring about making positive spins so that all concerned are better off than before she took on these cases. VERY WORHTWHILE reading.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fabulous historical mystery

    In 1930 through Sir Julian Compton, Sir Cecil Lawton meets renowned psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs to ask a favor of her, regardless of her high fee. Nervous Cecil explains that his son Ralph served as a member of the Flying Corps, but died in 1917 in France. Cecil¿s wife Agnes believed her son lived in spite of the contrary evidence and turned to spiritualists as her mental state collapsed. Three months just before dying Agnes made Cecil vow on her deathbed to find Ralph. Though she believes this is a wild goose chase, Maisie agrees to make some inquiries although she admits she is not sure how to proceed. She is curious as to how Agnes reconciled her insistence that Ralph lives with the fact that he never came home to see her. Still she begins her inquiries into what happened to Ralph at his home while seeking a legal miracle worker to help embattled Avril Jarvis. Her efforts take Maisie full circle as the clues lead to her college friend Priscilla Evernden, whose lost brother served with Ralph. Meanwhile someone wants the investigation stopped, tampering with Maisie¿s car amongst other attempts to end her inquiries. --- The third Maisie Dobbs investigative tale is a fabulous historical mystery that brings to life two eras, 1930 through the heroine¿s lifestyle and 1917 through the case. The story line is fabulous to follow because of the cast especially the heroine as she digs deep into the past. Readers who appreciate an intelligent well written period piece detective story will enjoy this fine tale and its predecessors (see MAISIE DOBBS and BIRDS OF A FEATHER). --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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