Is it ever ok to lie to someone?
A little white lie or a big fat lie, either one, I won’t judge you. Sometimes we do things during wartime we can’t or shouldn’t admit to later. Sometimes we’re not allowed.
Sometimes, it’s just a little white lie, to spare your feelings or to make ourselves feel better about why we did something. Sometimes we make up huge stories to hide completely from – well. If we told you that wouldn’t be hiding now would it?
Recommended, though I do prefer the audio version of these books.
I’ve read other books in the Maisie Dobbs series, but never the first one. So, it was a pleasure to get her backstory, to learn where she came from and what a truly extraordinary woman she is.
The Maisie Dobbs series takes place in London in the 1930s. She’s a private detective, well-read and thoughtful, who solves crimes, mostly murder, amongst a certain class of people. (They may not all be a certain class, but they are all filtered through that certain class’s lens.) Maisie has humble origins, but has worked hard to grow out of them.
In Maisie Dobbs, we learn that she went to work as a maid for a progressive wealthy woman who caught Maisie working her way through the library before her morning shift started. Instead of firing her, she found her a tutor and sent her to college; Maisie dropped out to go be a nurse during WWI. It’s a characterization that is at once intelligent and practical and will appeal to anyone who wants to put their world in order.
It’s a slim book, and the mystery takes up only about a third of the story. The rest is devoted to the backstory and setting up the relationships as they are now. It is a book designed to kick off a series. It’s done its job well.
What’s it about?
Maisie Dobbs is an independent woman in 1930s London. She is a private investigator, which lends itself well to a mystery series. This is the eighth book in the series; pro-fascist groups are on the rise in London (and Britain in general). Maisie is hired by a national security organization to keep an eye on a private college in Oxford that emphasizes peace in all its teachings. Not because they want to avoid war, but because the security services are worried the pro-fascist factions have infiltrated it. She is supposed to do some light investigating and keep the right people apprised of what she discovers. Of course, the college’s head is murdered and Maisie needs to figure out who did it.
Why should you read it?
A Lesson in Secrets is the first in the series that I’d read; that was a mistake. There are a number of characters and a couple of ongoing plots that were hard to keep track of simply because I wasn’t familiar with the previous seven books. That said, I liked the tone and crisp efficiency of the book and the main character. These are People Who Get Things Done. I think that’s what mysteries are ultimately about: taking a messy situation and putting it in order. This one fills its mission well, and I do love a bit of 1930s London & Oxford. I will definitely go back and read the previous books.