I hate modern design. It's all spare and bare and white space. I can forgive Blogger all the white space under the assumption that it loads faster or something, but seriously, I don't understand why people think that fewer designations between different sections make it easier to navigate a website.
That's all beside the point, except to the extent that my being irritable with the new Blogger look might leak over into my opinions on books. You've been warned.
Brenda warned me that Madeleine Robins' Petty Treason wasn't quite as good as Point of Honour, and I suppose that's true in its way, but I don't think it's much of a drop back. I think the problem with any series is that the delight of discovering something new and interesting is never present at the second book, and it's possible to feel that lack. In a case where you like the books instead of loving them, it might be enough to move your enthusiasm down a tick.
I think I might have liked this one better, actually. I find that mysteries often tend to ramble as the investigators pursue red herrings. I felt like this one kept moving forward--I never felt like I didn't know why we hadn't moved along to the next thing yet. It's the old fashioned need to talk to so many people, instead of calling them or (as on TV) sending your uniforms to canvas the area.
Brenda's other main point, which I totally see, is that the first book involved Sarah getting involved in personal relationships that had her more engaged and gave us more of a window into her personality. While there was no romantic relationship here, I actually felt like I got a lot of really interesting character exploration through Sarah's (excuse, me, Miss Tolerance's) relationships with her aunt, her friend Marianne, and her client. Her fear of trusting her aunt, her protectiveness of her client, her explorations of close friendship, her frustrations that she vents at Sir Walter--all of these fit together to give me such a good picture of Sarah Tolerance's state of mind. Somehow, I just find that really satisfying.
I keep comparing her to Maisie Dobbs, whom I've given up on entirely at this point. Sarah Tolerance wins out every time. Sarah's got so much going on inside her, and you can see how that is touched, formed, and fed back on by the things that happen around her. Really, while the mystery is pretty great, these books are all about character. The third one came out last year; I hope Robins is writing more.