Summary and book reviews of An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

An Incomplete Revenge

A Maisie Dobbs Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

An Incomplete Revenge
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2008, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kathy Pierson

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Book Summary

In her fifth outing, Maisie Dobbs, the extraordinary Psychologist and Investigator, delves into a strange series of crimes in a small rural community.

With the country in the grip of economic malaise, and worried about her business, Maisie Dobbs is relieved to accept an apparently straightforward assignment from an old friend to investigate certain matters concerning a potential land purchase. Her inquiries take her to a picturesque village in Kent during the hop-picking season, but beneath its pastoral surface she finds evidence that something is amiss. Mysterious fires erupt in the village with alarming regularity, and a series of petty crimes suggests a darker criminal element at work. As Maisie discovers, the villagers are bitterly prejudiced against outsiders who flock to Kent at harvest time—even more troubling, they seem possessed by the legacy of a wartime Zeppelin raid. Maisie grows increasingly suspicious of a peculiar secrecy that shrouds the village, and ultimately she must draw on all her finely honed skills of detection to solve one of her most intriguing cases.

PROLOGUE
Early September 1931

The old woman rested on the steps of her home, a caravan set apart from those of the rest of her family, her tribe. She pulled a clay pipe from her pocket, inspected the dregs of tobacco in the small barrel, shrugged, and struck a match against the rim of a water butt tied to the side of her traveling home. She lit the pipe with ease, clamping her ridged lips around the end of the long stem to draw vigor from the almost-spent contents. A lurcher lay at the foot of the steps, seeming at first to be asleep, though the old woman knew that one ear was cocked to the wind, one eye open and watching her every move.

Aunt Beulah Webb—that was the name she was known by, for an older gypsy woman was always known as aunt to those younger—sucked on her pipe and squinted as she surveyed the nearby fields, then cast her eyes to the hop-gardens beyond. The hops would be hanging heavy on the bine by now, rows upon rows of dark-green, spice-aroma’d ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions
  1. Divided between past and present, between her female gender and her male-dominated profession, and between her British identity and part-gypsy ancestry, Maisie Dobbs is a character of intense inward divisions. How do these divisions both complicate and strengthen Maisie as a character?
  2. A variety of pivotal scenes in An Incomplete Revenge involve dramatic uses of fire. What range of moods, feelings, or symbolic meanings does fire represent in the novel?
  3. Although several of the residents of Heronsdene are developed individually as characters, the townspeople are also dominated by an ominous group psychology. What might Winspear be suggesting through her portrayal of this ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Both loyal fans of Winspear's mysteries and the readers new to her work will welcome this satisfying tale, set in a rural England that is still haunted by ghosts of The Great War. Maisie Dobbs is an independent and observant woman who relies on her perception and intuition to unravel long-time knots in the cases she pursues. The 1930's rural Kent countryside and the cityscape of between-war London serve as convincing historical settings for the unusual story that unfolds.   (Reviewed by Kathy Pierson).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Even if a few of the plot twists prove predictable, this jaunt back to a bygone era is as satisfying as a spin in Maisie's MG.

Kirkus Reviews

A painfully evocative tale of England’s struggles with class differences and poverty between the wars, and a clever mystery.

Library Journal

Winspear paints a historical cozy featuring intriguing characters and surprising twists. Maisie is absolutely compelling not only as an investigator but also as a psychologist while she probes the hearts and minds of those she meets. Highly recommended

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

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...   Read More

Linda

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...   Read More

Phyllis

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 ...   Read More

Robert

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...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Roma People in Britain

From the first page to the last, Winspear sympathetically portrays Maisie Dobb's acceptance of and respect for Roma people, and celebrates their spirit. Sometimes referred to pejoratively as "gypsies" in English speaking countries (a corruption of "Egyptian"), this ancient, family-centered culture is believed to have emerged from warrior classes in what is now Pakistan over a millennium ago. Migrating north and west into Europe by the 16th century, today's Roma are divided by their Indo-Iranian dialect into ...

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