Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Hardcover (available in trade June 2007), 322 pages, 2006
Reason for Reading: I really enjoyed Pardonable Lies.
Synopsis: In 1931 England, a young woman named Georgina comes to private investigator Maisie Dobbs with a dubious but heart-felt case: that her brother’s death wasn’t an accidental fall, but a murder. Her sibling, Nick, had been hanging some of his art for a spectacular gallery show that would unveil his top-secret masterpiece, but his body was discovered the next morning, the location of his final piece a mystery. It’s up to Maisie to discover the truth, but the controversial nature of the artist means that there are a lot more people blocking it than she would ever have expected…
Why you should read this book: If you’re in trouble, you want a woman like Maisie Dobbs on your side – she’s intuitive yet level-headed, reserved yet full of modern ideas, willing to ask hard questions and yet full of compassion. The inclusion of information about the world of art hits just the right note, as well, providing all kinds of impressive tidbits but still focusing on the mystery at hand. If you’re into the more classic type of mystery novels – less gore and seedy behavior (and not just on behalf of the criminals); more character development and investigative work – you’ll find a wonderful home in Winspear’s novels.
Why you should avoid this book: The middle part of the novel is very disjointed as Maisie seems to hit a lot of walls in her investigation, which might be realistic but is too muddled to provide much suspense. When things do become clear, the book could have been wrapped up a bit more quickly, but the final revelation makes up for a lot of that.
The taxi-cab slowed down alongside the gates of Camden Abbey, a red brick former mansion that seemed even more like a refuge as a bitter sleet swept across the gray, forbidding landscape.
‘I looked through the obituary, and it didn’t say anything that wasn’t known to us already. There were a couple of write-ups on ‘is paintings, otherwise it was all along the lines of “a rare talent lost” – you know, that sort of thing.’ Billy seemed to stifle a yawn. ‘Mind you, there was a line or two in one of them about the sibling rivalry. I thought it was a bit snide myself. In the Sketch, it was. The reporter saying that the B-H’s had always competed to see who could get more attention, and that now there was no twin brother, Miss B-H would probably have the wind knocked out of her sails.’
But they had seen her, had found in necessary to comment to one another as she passed. Though they whispered, the tension in their bodies, the way they clustered as if to protect a secret, all served to speak directly to Maisie, as if they had uttered their very thoughts to her, or shouted their conversation above the wind. Yes, she had seen them all before, and so had Nick Bassington-Hope. She knew that now.
Also recommended: Cover Her Face by P.D. James; Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak.
Also by this author: Maisie Dobbs; Birds of a Feather; Pardonable Lies.
Author’s website: jacquelinewinspear.com
Would I read more by this author? I still need to read the first two in this series (and any future Dobbs books), so yes.
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007