- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (November 25, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312428189
- ISBN-13: 978-0312428181
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 16.6 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5) Paperback – November 25, 2008
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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.)
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“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 . . . Winspear 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Can't wait to read the next one. I enjoy the authors sense of humor and the endearing way she writes.