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An Incomplete Revenge

An Incomplete Revenge

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4.9 of 5
Henry Holt (2008)
British and Irish
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7 Reviews
  • Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is always a refreshing change from the blood and guts that are common fare in most other detective fiction. Maisie, who bills herself as a “Psychologist and Investigator,” is unlike any other protagonist in crime fiction. There’s nothing the least bit hard-boiled about her. Operating in London and points south, Maisie works under the ever-present pall of World War I. Though it’s now the 1930s, Maisie’s service as a nurse at a casualty clearing station near the front line in France was the dominant experience in her otherwise very eventful life. Her fiance, Captain Simon Lynch, lies in a vegetative state in a convalescent home. They had worked together in France and were wounded by the same German artillery shell.

    Maisie Dobbs and the legacy of war

    In An Incomplete Revenge, the fifth book in the series, Maisie is forced to face the lasting pain of her earlier years: the backstory of her family’s life, the class resentment she continues to bear as a child of poverty, the tension between her and her brilliant mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche, and her lover’s worsening condition. In the face of all this stress, Maisie takes on what proves to be a challenging case on behalf of her dear friend, James Compton, the son of the aristocratic couple that sponsored her education.

    A village where strange things happen

    The action centers on the village of Heronsdene in Southeast England. The village lies not far from the estate where she once served as a maid and her father still lives, tending the horses. It’s hop-picking season. The fields are crowded with Londoners, a small tribe of Gypsies, and villagers, all seeking to supplement their meager income. It’s 1931, and the Depression is well underway. All the land nearby, and the brickworks located on it, are the property of a single owner, who is universally despised in the area. Alfred Sandermere is a bully, a drunkard, and a wastrel.

    Maisie has come to Heronsdene because James wants her to look into the strange circumstances there, as he is interested in buying the estate. These circumstances include a series of suspicious fires, a rash of thefts at the Sandermere mansion and elsewhere, and the villagers’ mysterious refusal to talk about the Zeppelin attack that killed the local baker and his family in 1916. With mystery piled on mystery, this is a case tailor-made for Maisie Dobbs.

    Naturally, Maisie triumphs in the end, having disentangled the threads of this complicated story and given her friend the green light to proceed with the purchase. But the fun, after all, is in the telling.

  • I have read all of the Maisie Dobbs books and love them all, some a bit more than others. This one I love most of all. I have just re-read it and once again was moved to tears by a sense of loss, place, and time gone by. These books take place during and after the Great War (WWI) in England for the most part. It is not a time that I know of. Except for these books, and Foyle's War, and a few other books. But mostly the Masie Dobbs books. The way Winspear describes the settings, the clothes, the characters, the times, places the reader right there on the pages and invokes experiences we would never had had. I believe everyone should read at lease the first book, "Maisie Dobbs" before reading any of the other books in the series. The best way would be to work one's way through the series since there are always references to what came before. However, Winspear is very considerate of her readers and makes certain that no matter which book in the series you are reading, you will understand how Maisie has come to the place she has come to in each book. In this book, the references to the gypsies and their way of life and their language and customs is fascinating. And, of course, the secrets held by all of the predominant characters. Maisie can bring you into her life and sometimes hold you at bay, not letting you in at all as she strubbles with her own misfortunes. But Maisie is a character one can love and engage with as you go through her life and experiences in these books. Most, Most, Most especially THIS one.

  • This is a really good series of mysteries that starts on the eve of WW1 in Britain. The lead character is a young girl who comes from the mean streets of London, is placed into domestic service in a wealthy manor home. She discovers a love of books and is in turn discovered by the homeowner as not only an avid reader but someone with an unusually analytic mind. Maisie Dobbs acquires a mentor, a psychologist and investigator who teaches and develops her into an investigator. In An Incomplete Revenge, she is called in to research a possible land and building purchase. The case soon involves a town experiencing strange fires, a zeppelin air strike, and gypsies. I HIGHLY recommend you start with the very first novel, though, since references and characters are mentioned in subsequent books and it will all make more sense.

  • Bought the entire set for my Kindle and then purchased the paperbacks for my Mum. It's been a long time since someone has written mystery novels that she can read. No gratuitous sex, violence. Beautifully written with wonderful characters and excellent plotlines. A must-read. Quality mysteries in the manner of Agatha Christie and all the classic mystery writers of her era.