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Page turners: 'Quite Honestly'

Good intentions pave Lucy Purefoy's way into all kinds of misadventures in this engaging satire by the author of "Rumpole of the Bailey."

"I don't know why, but I've always wanted to do some good in the world," says the recently graduated daughter of an Anglican bishop. She signs on as a volunteer with SCRAP - Social Carers, Reformers, and Praeceptors - a group that tries to help ex-convicts transition back into life outside prison. Brightly announcing, "I'm your guide and philosopher," she relentlessly burrows her way into the life of Terry Keegan, a career thief who started stealing at age 12. Terry, who had this idea that freedom meant that he could run his own life, and Lucy take turns narrating chapters as the question of who's reforming whom becomes a bit muddled. Terry's life gets even more complicated when the head of his criminal ring, Leonard "Chippy" McGrath, ends up running SCRAP - on the recommendation of Terry's parole officer.

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Mortimer clearly enjoys poking fun at middle-class do-gooders - especially Lucy's dad, a bishop so tolerant that he probably puts a "pretty please" at the end of the Sixth Commandment. The end result is a tad slight, but fine for readers who enjoy light satire with a little larceny on the side. Grade: B-


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