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Pardonable Lies; Jacqueline Winspear, John Murray JACQUELINE WINSPEAR sets her story Pardonable Lies in Britain of 1930. The war is just over and people are still haunted by the harsh memories and coping with the loss of their loved ones. Into this scene steps Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. She has her "Watson" - an earnest, well-meaning bloke Billy Beale. Maisie's life story is interesting. When her mother dies, her father unable to cope with a young child in the house finds her employment in the house of Lord and Lady Compton. Taking a liking to her Lady Compton sees to her education. With education and a job she shifts from "the lowly bed in the servants' quarters" to a room in the house. She occupies a room here as a favour to Lady Compton who wants someone trustworthy to be living there.Maisie's methods are different. She is soft spoken, kind and considerate. The book opens with Maisie's coaxing a young suspect to talk. Thawed by Maisie's unorthodox approach, they find out that her name is Avril Jarvis. And slowly she begins to talk about what happened to her and how she came to be found near the murdered body of her dead `uncle'.But this is not Maisie's first case, though in a sense it is connected with it. Her first case is unusual. Sir Cecil Lawton, a friend of Lord Julian Compton, wants her to prove that his son who was declared `Missing in Action' is well and truly dead. And the only reason he wants to know for sure is because his wife who died recently, firmly believed that he was still alive. And she knew this because she "had become involved with spiritualists, mediums and all sorts of quackery".Maisie finds this request strange, to say the least, but she does take it on because he is Lord Julian's friend and she cannot refuse. Winspear unravels the mystery slowly, methodically, working through every detail. Simultaneously, she works on the case of Avril Jarvil and takes on the case of her friend Priscilla's missing brother too. Her visits to the spiritualists as captivating, almost making you hold your breath waiting for something nasty to take place.Maisie has her own nightmares about the war and Winspear helps her deal with this - a bit of a slow down. An interesting mix of romance, history, murder and mystery all neatly woven into a tight web to give the reader a good read.

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