Pardonable Lies is the third in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. This is a series that you need to read in order. So much of what Winspear writes builds on what she had already told you. So, I would strongly recommend starting with Maisie Dobbs if you want to read this series.
Each of these books gets better and better. Jacqueline Winspear has an incredible grasp on 1920/30s Europe. The dialogue, the clothing fashions, the dilemmas that people are facing between the Wars all seem remarkably accurate. She has an ability to give the reader just enough flavor to really feel the era without overwhelming with unnecessary details just to prove that she knows the time and the place that she describes.
As with every Maisie Dobbs novel, this story revolves around solving a World War I mystery. The mysteries always cause Maisie to undergo intense self-reflection about her own involvement in and response to the War. In this story Maisie has begun to deal with the guilt of surviving when so many friends had been killed. Part of the theme also revolves around the attempt of the survivors to put to rest the questions they have about men who had been killed during the War.
This book seems particularly poignant today as we deal with soldiers returning from another war. These men are dealing with psychological and physical affects that civilians cannot hope to understand. Winspear does an excellent job of helping the reader to understand how difficult it is to return to "normal" life and pretend that nothing out of the ordinary happened.
Without a doubt Jacqueline Winspear is one of my favorite recent authors. I would recommend her books to most anyone. They are fascinating mysteries that make the reader want to keep going to solve the crime. They are great historical novels that really encapsulate post-War Europe. And, they are psychological stories about inner-personal turmoil and dealing with grief.