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An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel Paperback – Nov 25 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (Nov. 25 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312428189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312428181
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In Edgar-finalist Winspear's enjoyable fifth installment in her Maisie Dobbs series (after 2006's Messenger of Truth), the psychologist/investigator digs deep into a village's long-buried secrets. Maisie's benefactor, tycoon James Compton, wants to buy an estate in the bucolic hamlet of Heronsdene, but is wary after a string of mysterious fires. Maisie soon proves Compton's suspicions correct when she encounters the shady current landowner and a vaguely menacing band of Gypsies in town for the seasonal harvest. The locals are also curiously tight-lipped about Heronsdene's wartime tragedy, when a zeppelin raid wiped out a family. Teasing out Heronsdene's secrets will take all the intrepid former nurse's psychological skills and test her ability to navigate between the Gypsy and gorja (non-Gypsy) worlds. Winspear vividly evokes England between the wars, when the old order crumbled and new horizons beckoned working women like her appealing heroine. 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. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Maisie Dobbs is a revelation. (Alexander McCall Smith, Author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency)

Those unfamiliar with the Maisie Dobbs series are best advised to start here and work their way backward. . . . An Incomplete Revenge shows Maisie at the top of her detecting form. (Newsday)

A smart, pragmatic private investigator and psychologist with extraordinary empathic sensitivity . . . Every page of this novel is dense with affectionately rendered period detail. Winspear deftly intertwines multiple story lines. The tale becomes increasingly gripping as the novel progresses toward a truly moving ending. (The Boston Globe)

Winspear's lively and graceful prose, strong sense of time and place, and her ability to create believable and sympathetic characters make the book a joy to read. (The Denver Post)

A pleasure . . . This nuanced series explores England in the aftermath of World War I, when millions of women who lost their husbands, lovers, and sons were left to make their own ways. Maisie is one of that group, and her way is an appealing one. (The Times-Picayune (New Orleans))

A compelling and intriguing puzzle . . . inspear infuses this moving novel with wisdom, restrained emotion and, as is her custom, issues of morality. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Intriguing . . . Fascinating . . . Skillfully drawn. (The Washington Times)

One of the more robust entries in the historical mystery category. (The Seattle Times)

Often eloquent and deeply human. (The Providence Journal)

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By L. J. Roberts TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 2 2011
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: The old woman rested on the steps of her home, a caravan set apart from those of the rest of her family, her tribe.

An old friend hires investigator Maisie Dobbs to investigate matters relating to a potential land purchase. Petty thefts have been blamed on London boys there to help pick hops, but the residents also distrust the Gypsies who are there. Maisie has discovered small fires which have occurred each year but no one reported them to the fire departments or police. A family was killed during the war by a Zeppelin attack, yet no one will talk about it. Maisie must put together the pieces together while also dealing with her feeling regarding the soldier she loves who has been in a coma since the war.

This is my second foray into Maisie Dobbs. I didn't care for her first time and, I must admit, nothing much has changed. Winspear does include information on the gypsies that I found interesting until it became redundant. She also includes details to the point of minutia on things that aren't particularly important. Her descriptions are informative but not evocative so that a feeling for the sense of place is missing.

As a character, Maisie is the sort of person who would annoy me if I knew her. Yes, I can justify some of it by remember she's experience the trauma of war, but not all. There is arrogance to Maisie that surpasses self confidence and is somewhat unappealing as it borders on arrogance. Her friend, Priscilla, is the complete antithesis to Maisie and annoying in her own way. In fact, the most interesting characters in the book were Maisie's father followed closely by the dog.

The story itself is just not gripping. There's no real suspense or emotion; everything is at a distance and somewhat dispassionate.
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By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 24 2008
Format: Audio CD
When my local library received the latest in the this series - An Incomplete Revenge - in audio format, I decided to borrow it to listen in the car. I'm quite glad I did as it made such a difference to listen to it. The characters came alive. The reader had a wonderful English accent that set the tone and location for this book.

Maisie Dobbs is a psychologist and investigator. All the novels take place in England in the late 1920's. Maisie is asked to investigate a small village for a company hoping to purchase the local brick works. They are concerned about a series of fires and small thefts that have been occurring.

It is hop picking season in the village, so her assistant Billy and his family are also in the village to work, as are a band of gypsies. The villagers do not report the fires and just gloss over them. They are very reticent about some of the history of the village and do not like the gypsies. With patient questioning Maisie unravels the mysteries surrounding this tiny enclave.

The descriptions of society at this time are fascinating. If you're looking for a good cozy mystery, this might be for you.
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Format: Hardcover
In An Incomplete Revenge the plucky and inimitable Maisie Dobbs, a woman of no certain substance, returns to solve a series of petty crimes and inexplicable fires that have been plaguing the quaint town of Heronsdene in rural Kent. Maisie's investigation begins in London when she meets the dashing James Compton, head of the wealthy and lucrative Compton Corporation who informs her there's some "funny business" going on down at the Sandermere Estate.

The Compton Corporation wishes to place a purchase offer on the estate, but James is hearing doubts about the landowner, a man called Alfred Sandermere, the younger son of Lord Sandermere, who became heir to the estate when his older brother Henry was killed in the Great War. Apparently, Alfred has done nothing but draw funds from the estate, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. "It's essentially a fire sale," James tells Maisie, and there's nothing more than the Compton Corporation likes than "a clean transaction."

For sure the petty crime and vandalism in the house, and at the accompanying brickworks, are in danger of jeopardizing the sale. Even stranger is that all of the local villagers are keeping quiet about it with no one especially hurrying to point a finger. Trusted with the job of looking into matters to find out if there's anything amiss locally that would affect James' purchase of the Sandermere estate, Maisie travels to Heronsdene with her faithful cockney assistant Billy Beale whom she entrusts to do much of the initial legwork.

A center for the summer season of hop picking, Heronsdene, however, proves to anything but bucolic for Maisie, the initial drive through the village causing her to shiver with the hair on her back bristling with uncertainty.
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Format: Paperback
Maisie is faced with the ghosts of the past. Her own and those of a village which is stricken by a guilty secret. She puts to rest her beloved and comes to terms with many unresolved issues of her personal life as she uncovers the web of mystery surrounding an English Village. This is a deeply complex plot with many surprises and it also shares the difficulties of everyday life in that time period.
All Maisie Dobbs fans will enjoy this story immensely. It is well written and keeps you guessing till the very conclusion of the story. It also leaves wide a new path for Maisie which could go in many different directions in future stories we all anticipate with great expectations.
Jacqueline Winspear has brought freshness to the detective genre, much as Dorothy L Sayers did in her time. The stories and characters have great depth, as the characters continue to grow with sigificance in each story. I look forward to reading many more adventures in the future!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 138 reviews
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
clean, tasty, sentimental, and classic March 9 2008
By Richard Cumming - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series is written from a lovely point of view. During this period between the world wars the women of England found themselves in a surplus situation of millions compared to the men who had been obliterated upon the killing fields of France. This problem was also an opportunity.

In this fifth book of the series we find Maisie trying to solve the mystery of some mysterious arson cases in a tiny village during the hop harvest. The village is a strange place, filled with an ominous sense of dread.

Maisie has been liberated in a sense occupationally by the war. Many women found new careers because there were so few men left. She also finds another form of liberation in this book, the freedom to love again.

Winspear evokes a much gentler place where discourse was less profane, crimes were less explicit, and the carnage was a tragic memory of war. Violence is implied. Language is muted. Emotions drizzle across the page like an English rain. Exquisite!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Slow starting, but great literature by the end May 14 2008
By R. Boston - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Psychologist and Investigator Maisie Dobbs is hired to look into an odd series of petty thefts and fires in a small English village a decade or so after WW I. A series of annual fires, all near the anniversary of a Zeppelin attack on the town during WW I, are never reported to the authorities. The fire brigades are never called. The villagers extinguish the fires, acting as a single community, yet they seem to ignore the obvious reality that the fires are not accidents or coincidences. When asked, the indicdents are explained as accidents. No one will talk about them or the night of the Zeppelin attack, obviously deeply traumatized by something. Maisie gets to the bottom of it all, yet the truth is too unsettling to be comforting.

The book provides interesting insights into the British class system of the early 20th century, gypsie culture and the aftermath of war, but the book's true greatness is not manifest until near the end, as the pieces fall into place.

Though it starts a bit slow and may not immediately strike the reader as a great or even exceptionally good book, it exposes human nature as only great literature can. It is the only contemporary book I have read in years that I consider to be a great work of literature. Winspear peals back the layers of human nature, revealing raw grief, anger, fear, revenge and guilt.

This is one of the few books of our time that should be read and regarded as a classic by future generations. Once read, it will not be forgotten. It is not just another good detective novel.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
marvelous Maisie mystery Feb. 21 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In 1931 business tycoon James Compton considers buying property in Heronsdene, Kent but a rash of questionable fires has left him re-evaluating his selection. He asks his friend London based investigative psychologist Maisie Dobbs to look into what seems to him as obvious the work of an arsonist. She would do anything for her mentor and besides needs the money he offers as the Great Depression has hammered at consultants like her so she agrees to visit the tiny rustic village.

Maisie quickie uncovers the suspicious dealings of a landowner while wondering why the locals refuse to speak about visiting Gypsies or a WW I zeppelin raid that killed an entire family; as the behavior is way beyond the normal suspicion of strangers. A struggling Maisie begins to tie together the townsfolk, the gypsies, the Great War and what happened afterward in remote Heronsdene, but someone is on war alert watching her every step.

The latest Dobbs between the World Wars' mystery is a terrific entry in one of the best twentieth century private investigation series. Maisie is at her best as she sleuths in a location in which no one wants her around let alone snooping. However, it is the sense of time and place that makes AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE and its four predecessors (see MESSENGER OF TRUTH, PARDONABLE LIES, MAISIE DOBBS and BIRDS OF A FEATHER) worth reading as few authors if any bring to life England in the late 1920s and early 1930s as picturesquely as Jacqueline Winspear consistently has done with the marvelous Maisie mysteries.

Harriet Klausner
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Masterful March 17 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Over the course of four previous novels, Jacqueline Winspear's heroine, Maisie Dobbs, has developed into one of the most complex and compelling female sleuths in current mystery fiction. A former World War I nurse simultaneously struggling to cope with the ongoing legacy of what she saw and experienced in that horrible war while trying to get her fledgling investigation business off the ground in London, Maisie has emerged as a fully developed, intriguing character. Appealingly contemporary in her personality, credibly part of her time and place (thanks in no small part to Winspear's impeccable historical research), Maisie Dobbs's fans read these books as much for insights into this absorbing heroine as for the engaging mystery plots the author constructs.

AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE, Winspear's fifth outing, will not disappoint readers, with its skillful intersection of character development, historical detail and intricate plotting. The novel opens with Maisie seemingly making a fresh start after the tumultuous events of her previous investigation (recounted in MESSENGER OF TRUTH), a deeply personal case that forced her to confront events of the war but left her estranged from her longtime friend and mentor.

Maisie's newfound happiness, though, is tempered by economic pressures, as the worldwide depression of the early 1930s affects her business prospects in London. When an old family friend asks for her help in investigating some potential business acquisitions in Kent, Maisie leaps at the opportunity to enhance her personal financial situation while visiting with her beloved father. By coincidence, Maisie's long-time assistant Billy is also in the area, participating in the annual hop-picking with his family. It turns out, however, that Maisie will need every bit of Billy's help, her own ingenuity and even the assistance of some most unlikely allies --- the gypsies who also make annual pilgrimages to the region for the hop-picking --- to solve the multi-layered mysteries that haunt this small Kentish village.

During her investigation of a series of petty crimes, including arson, that plague the village and the brickworks her friend is interested in acquiring, Maisie soon suspects that the events are hardly the work of small-time thieves or petty vandals. Instead, as she delves into the inhabitants' history of heartbreak, loss and suspicion, she begins to suspect a much more widespread, and sinister, force is at work --- one that, like her own heartbreak, dates back to the catastrophic events of the Great War.

Set during the turbulent, evocative years between the wars, the Maisie Dobbs series delves into the gaping holes left by one war while exploring the roots of another on the horizon. AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE does a particularly masterful job of this, as Winspear explores how the prejudice inspired by one conflict leads to the insularity, fear and prejudice that can spark another. As for Maisie, the character who readers will eagerly return to again and again, this latest installment will not disappoint. Rather, as she closes the book on one particularly painful chapter of her past, Maisie seems poised, in future installments, to finally pursue the contentment she so richly deserves. Will she uncover this potential happiness with the same aplomb with which she tackles her toughest cases? Readers will wait with bated breath to find out.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
An Incomplete Revenge May 17 2008
By egreetham - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"An Incomplete Revenge" is an old-fashioned book reminiscent of very early Agatha Christie--there are lots of coincidences, a complicated plot with a gather-them-altogether ending, and rather stereotypical characters. And in spite of all that, the novel does have, like Christie's, a certain narrative power.

The book is centered on two puzzles: Maisie must find out who is behind the thefts at the manor house of an estate which her friend James wishes to buy, and she must determine who is causing the annual fires in the village where the estate is located. The novel is certainly not a mystery--the identity and rationale of the first criminal is obvious from the first. The "twist," the solution of the second problem, is also not very difficult to anticipate. Whether the reader enjoys the book hinges on what we make of the heroine and her dealings with the other characters and the atmosphere the author establishes.

Maisie is still too much of a superwoman for me--she rarely puts a foot wrong. Her reaction to a grave personal loss which she experiences lacks conviction, though some of the individual scenes concerning it are poignant and moving. I have come to dislike her bossy friend Priscilla, and wonder that Maisie is able to tolerate her. The conversations Maisie has with Maurice Blanche, her mentor, are full of pretension and fraudulent psychology; I haven't missed them.

Which brings us to the Rom, the "gypsies." The Rom customarily assist at the hop-picking which forms such an interesting background to this book. Other Londoners habitually travel to Kent at this time to pick as well, and a good deal of the novel focuses on the prejudices between these two groups, as well as the hostility between the inhabitants of the village near the hop gardens toward both parties, and vice versa. Ironically, though Winspear tries to teach us (clumsily) about the life of the Rom, and the unfairness with which they are treated, she reinforces some of these prejudices by focusing on using their reputation for "second sight" and other "magical" powers. (Maisie, who shares in these mystic powers by virtue of her Romany grandmother, uses dowsing to make a discover central to part of the case's solution.) What are we left thinking about this long-persecuted group?

Winspear's setting, the village in which the hop-picking is carried out, and the hop-picking customs were really interesting and well thought out. This part of her writing is what makes the book worth reading. A vanished world is re-established for our pleasure.

If you are a Maisie fan you will find all the usual entertainments in "An Incomplete Revenge" in addition to further developments in her personal life. If you aren't particularly a fan, you may well enjoy the picture of post-World-War-I life sufficiently to overlook some of the book's flaws.