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An Incomplete Revenge

A Maisie Dobbs Novel

By Jacqueline Winspear

An Incomplete Revenge
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2008,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2008,
    352 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Kathy Pierson

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Cloggie Downunder (07/28/14)

an excellent read
An Incomplete Revenge is the fifth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. James Compton, son of Maisie’s long-time patron, Lady Compton, is in the process of purchasing a large estate at Heronsdene, Kent for the family company, but some incidents of petty crime, vandalism and small fires in the area are cause for concern, so Maisie is engaged to conduct enquiries.

It is early autumn of 1931, and as these cases all seem to occur during the hop harvest, it is especially convenient that her assistant, Billy Beale usually takes his family for a working holiday hop-picking at this time, and is able to contract to the farm on said estate. The waters are muddied, somewhat, by the influx of large groups of Londoners and gypsies, all taking part in the harvest, and the fact that the villagers of Heronsdene seem reluctant to involve the police or fire-brigade.


It appears that the land-owner, Alfred Sandermere, is a poor businessman and not well-liked by his tenant farmers or the villagers. A theft from the Manor house, blamed on two young London boys, sees Maisie visiting the gypsy matriarch in search of information. Maisie notices that the mood in the village is unusual: there is an undercurrent of fear in addition to the resentment and suspicion that the presence of the Londoners and gypsies usually brings. It seems the villagers are still keenly feeling the wartime loss of many of their young men, and are strangely hesitant to discuss the Zeppelin raid that occurred in 1916. In trying to determine if this is a case of sabotage, insurance fraud, opportunistic theft by itinerant workers or something else entirely, Maisie’s investigations lead her to encounters with a determined journalist, a dishonest vicar, a loyal dog, some reticent villagers, a luthier and a very snobbish land-owner.

Winspear touches on school bullying, prejudice against gypsies and anyone who is different, mob mentality and, of course, revenge. Her extensive research into gypsy customs and beliefs and into hops and hop picking in the early 20th century is apparent in every page. This gentle-paced mystery has quite a twist in the tail: a shocking crime that only becomes apparent in the last few chapters. Once again, an excellent read that will have Winspear fans looking forward to the next book in the series, Among The Mad.
Sharon (03/30/09)

An Incomplete Revenge
The lush descriptive detailing of the English countryside provides an atmospheric backdrop for Maisie Dobbs’ investigation into the mysterious incidents taking place in the rural village of Heronsdene in the 1930’s.

A vivid portrayal of the tensions between the cultures of the hop-pickers, the gypsies and the townspeople is richly displayed through the use of dialect, history and landscapes.

Through her relationships with Maurice Blanche, her father and Simon, among others, Maisie Dobbs has developed into a fully dimensional main character whose sixth sense along with a highly methodical thought process help prepare her for the most difficult of situations.

The myriad of secondary characters tended to bog down the plot and I found myself losing interest well into the second half of the book. Certain developments towards the end somewhat re-engaged me in the story, unrealistic as they seemed.

Symbols such as the Michaelmas daisies and the importance of identity are interwoven throughout the story. But, it almost becomes more of a somber statement of culture clashes and lessons in death than a mystery.
Linda (03/03/08)

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
I really enjoyed this book. As an Anglophile, I recognized many of the geographical details. I thought her descriptions of the era were very good. The plot was believable and the suspense certainly held my interest. I would recommend it to anyone especially book clubs and readers of historical fiction. I plan to read her other Maisie Dobbs book very soon.
Karen (03/03/08)

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
I kept humming "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" as I read this very fun, light and satisfying mystery from the Maisie Dobbs series--for these are the suspect groups in murder and theft. In fact, I was reading three books at the same time and was always a bit sad that I had to pick up the other two. The author has won many awards for the second book in the Maisie Dobbs' series, "Birds of a Feather" and I enjoyed this one just as much.

A detective and psychologist in a post WW I era, Winspear gives us lots of insight into the sense of loss, confusion and fear after the Great War as she investigates this cozy English town of people. Without angst, the theme of letting go and holding on to a more naive time and its people, runs throughout the book for many of its characters without being the book's focus. The resemblence to our own post-9/11 fears, regrets and losses is part of its dignity. And figuring out "who done it" still felt like a great mini-adventure.

I'm a real bibliofile and reserve a "5" for a select few. I'm sure for many others this book would have been a "5."
Phyllis (03/03/08)

An Incomplete Revenge
World War I has been over for more than ten years, but its events still cause repercussions for Maisie Dobbs in An Incomplete Revenge, the fifth adventure of the unconventional investigator. Investigating suspicious property crimes, Maisie asks questions in the village of Herondene. Local gentry and villagers' secrets are revealed as she investigates. Readers learn more of Maisie's history and speculate about her future when some ties to her past are severed. A caring person, Maisie becomes involved with those she investigates. Another great adventure set in a time mostly forgotten, it also delves into social and economic ills of the time. Highly readable and well written.
Robert (03/03/08)

A Quiet, Compelling Mystery
This unusual detective series keeps getting better with each installment. Maisie Dobbs is an original creation; she’s thoughtful and deliberate, but not dull. The post-World War I setting adds intrigue and some emotional punch to the plot (which is also quite unusual). I found this an easy, engaging read. I recommend it for readers who don’t need a lot of overwrought action and manufactured suspense in their mysteries.
Marie (03/03/08)

A complete pleasure!
I happily anticipated reading Winspear’s latest in her Maisie Dobbs series, having read and enjoyed the previous books so very much. She recreates the pre/post World War I era in England superbly. I was not disappointed!

Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs makes her life’s journey with intelligence, grit and courage and commands respect from all who encounter her. She is a woman who has the audacity to become both a psychologist and an investigator at a time when women had few options. Winspear resolves her complex plots and character motivations very skillfully.

In our harried high-tech world, it is refreshing to recall a time when letters were eagerly awaited and phone calls were luxuries!
Shirley (03/03/08)

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs is the most unusual Private Investigator I have ever met. Her analytical and unusual methods of solving a case make for the best kind of reading. She is kind, polite and very caring. She brings unusual people together with her warm personality. After reading her first book about Maisie, I was hooked. Her sensitive descriptions of her work as a nurse and the effects of war on returned soldiers and their families are so timely. This is the fourth in the series and just as absorbing. This entire series would be excellent for a book group.
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