An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Maisie Dobbs Novels)

by Jacqueline Winspear

Hardcover, 2008

Call number





Henry Holt and Co. (2008), Edition: First Edition, 320 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML: 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 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 war-time 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..… (more)

Media reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Marensr
I discovered the Maisie Dobbs series of mysteries sometime back and have enjoyed them as a casual read for their mix of mystery and history and a strong heroine.

However, in An Incomplete Revenge I think Winspear has reached new level of assurance and skill in her writing. The historical details
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are well integrated into the story and there is more personal character development for Maisie.

For those who are not familiar with the series, Maisie has risen from the lower orders to obtain a university education. She was a nurse during World War I, where she saw her Doctor fiancé injured by shrapnel. He survived but was not the same and had to have constant care in an institution. Maisie took over the investigative practice of her mentor Maurice Blanche and many of the cases she investigates reveal other wounds of the Great War.

In An Incomplete Revenge, Maisie is investigating the sale of a brickworks but finds secrets haunting the nearby village of Heronsdene and the encamped gypsies (Roma) and visiting Londoners there to harvest hops.

I appreciate the way Winspear uses the mystery form to explore the larger questions of personal responsibility, the ramifications of World War I, class and gender issues in the rapidly changing interwar period.

The series is an enjoyable thought provoking read and An Incomplete Revenge is a standout. I am only surprised no one has yet adapted the series for television.
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LibraryThing member MusicMom41
This is one of my favorite mystery series and it is holding up very well. It is summer and time for many of London’s poor to go into the country to earn extra money by picking hops. Maisie is also working on a job near one of the major hop picking areas and Billy manages to get his family
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attached to a farm in that area also. Thy mystery involves a town in which there have been numerous acts of vandalism, mostly involving small fires which the inhabitants insist are merely due to their own carelessness.

I enjoy this series especially for depiction of life in England after WWI and for the continuing development of the recurring characters as they adjust to life after the war. These are not “puzzle” mysteries; rather they are novels that contain an element of mystery in their plots. Highly recommended—but start with the first one, Maisie Dobbs, which isn’t a mystery at all, but sets up the series.
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LibraryThing member readerbynight
I was very taken with this book I loved the many textures and the fullness of characters, the setting of the late 1930s interspersed with a background story from WWI. I had never read a Maisie Dobbs story before but am fast becoming a new fan! Quite aside from the many mysterious happenings, I
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enjoyed learning of hop-picking, and the rich fullness of gypsies and gypsy lore.

Jacqueline Winspear has a very fluid voice in telling the story, understands the nuances in people, fear, hope, revenge, forgiveness, and the need to live a full life. The formation of who Maisie is unfolds throughout the book. She is a strong woman, conscientious, tolerant and compassionate. Her title of psychologist and investigator might well read psychic investigator, given her abilities and attunement to nature. There were many strands to be woven in this tapestry, with a lot of knots and tangles. The mysteries maintained a strong level and I was happy to see so much of the tapestry tied off in the Epilogue.

The many characters in the book are victims of the very crimes they were involved in and you cannot help but feel the fear and incitement for what was done without even realizing why. The despicable but lazy “Lord of the Manor” of the village is one of the feeblest strong-arms I’ve ever met in a book, I think. Does he deserve the outcome? Most probably, but maybe it was once again the easy way of doing things. Overall, a very honest and satisfying read, you can be sure I will be reading more of Maisie’s cases. Thanks to Jacqueline Winspear for one of my new favourite series! I recommend this book for the light mystery it is, a great antidote for between heavier tomes, enjoyable and fulfilling; I do like a book that I can learn something new from, too.
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LibraryThing member sumariotter
This is a great series. I was not that pulled in by the first book, but I have increasingly come to enjoy the series. Her plots are really unique and the historical background is very well researched. Best of all, the detective is a skilled empath--that's a first in detective fiction.
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
An investigation on behalf of James Compton, son of her former employer, takes Maisie to the hop fields of Kent during picking time. James is eager to buy some property in the village of Herondene, but he has concerns about the petty crimes and vandalism that plague the village. The villagers are
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closed-mouthed about these occurrences. They're more than ready to blame the thefts on either the London or gypsy field crews. Suspicion and fear have everyone on edge.

The novels in Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series have been consistently strong, and in my opinion, this is the most powerful yet. There wasn't a single aspect of the book that disappointed me. In its pages I could smell the ripe hop fields, apples, and fires of harvest time. I could see the vivid colors of the gypsy camp, and I could hear their music. Winspear stirs the emotions by probing touchy subjects such as bullying, prejudice, revenge, and grief, but she also soothes with illustrations of forgiveness, friendship, and love. This isn't a formulaic mystery, and it should appeal to readers of other genres, including historical fiction, literary fiction, and women's fiction. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member BookBully
Winspear juggles several plots in the fifth outing of her heroine, Maisie Dobbs. "An Incomplete Revenge" succeeds in the main and feels stronger than the third and fourth books in the series.

This time Maisie is called upon for help from the son of her mentors, the wealthy Comptons. James Compton
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has what appears to be a simple request - do some background checking on a piece of property he's considering purchasing. As Maisie learns, there are secrets surrounding the present owner that bleed into a tragic secret the nearby village has been keeping since the middle of the First World War.

Tied into this plot is one revolving around a group of gypsies who have gathered nearby for the annual hop-picking season. Maisie's personal heritage comes to the forefront in an interesting twist. She also says a final good-bye to the love of her life.

While the mystery section of the novel is interesting and well-plotted, side lines don't always blend as well as they should. A dip into the family life of Maisie's best friend, Priscilla, often seem to distract rather than add to the book. Whether Winspear is setting up the plot for a future adventure remains to be seen.

Readers who enjoy historical mysteries, especially those of the mother-son team, Charles Todd, should not miss the opportunity to meet Maisie Dobbs. Winspear's attention to period details are spot-on and her heroine is a multi-layered and fascinating character.
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LibraryThing member vampireeat
Had I not won this as one of Early Reviewer books, I probably would never have picked it up. Really, that's a shame. This is probably the book that I've had the most enjoyable experience reading that I've gotten from the ER program. Other than "Any Given Doomsday" - this is the only fiction book
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I've gotten. And if you read my review for the former, you know I didn't think that book was particularly well written. This book, however, is.

Don't get me wrong. The pacing of this book is very slow. Very little action and very little plot, ultimately. It's about a woman in England during the 1920's that works as a private investigator. Except she's kind of been chilling out and taking art classes since no one has really been hiring her. I must admit, I kind of liked the Maisie Dobbs I met at the beginning a little better. The one who likes making tapestries and who is learning how to relax. The minute she gets this case she gets wound pretty tight, which I guess is how she was in the other books.

I like that this is the fifth book in a series and I didn't really notice. Many mentions are made to Maisie's past, but in a way that makes me want to go read the other books and not take away from my job of reading this one. It took some getting used to with the dialogue from England; I did not, for example, truthfully understand everything her assistant said in very strong cockney, but I tried to put it all in context. I like how all the relationships are shown and explained both past and present; her assistant, her father, her old mentor, and her dying lover. The latter being the most sad of the stories, her visits to his bedside were what really got me into the book. I also loved Maisie's crazy best friend with the three French sons. I wish I had a friend like that.

Give this book a chance. It's by no means the best book I've ever read, but it's well-written and a pretty engaging tale. I'm pretty hard to please and I really liked it. You just might like reading it, too.
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LibraryThing member OnlyWhenPigsFly
I received this book as an "Early Reviewer." It was nice to hold a paper book in my hands again as I read (I usually read on a pc, laptop or my Kindle). The book is simply written and a simple but interesting story set between WWI and WWI in the UK countryside. Maisy Dobbs is an interesting
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independent woman yet fitting within the era in which this book was written. I really enjoyed the story and the writing. It wasn't a book of great emotions or that would cause the reader to ponder more serious thoughts - which was nice for a change. This book was wonderful to read in the fading light of a Spring evening on my deck as the sun set with a glass of wine enjoying the simple pleasures of life. The book did cause me to think about what is what like to live in Britain during this time and how it might have felt to be a young woman learning to live independently yet retain ties to her family and roots. Since reading this book, I have read other Masie Dobbs novels and will continue to do so. It is a truly gentle read to enjoy on a pretty day or curled up on the couch on a rainy day with the afghan. It won't make you sob or stretch you into new areas you might not have been before but it is a solid story with solid writing without the sugar spin or silliness of a fluffy novel (i.e., romance or the like). It is a mystery at its heart and the solution to that mystery is interesting if not brilliant.
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LibraryThing member agjuba
This is the 4th Maisie Dobbs mystery in the series, and the 4th that I have read.
I was originally drawn to the books by the setting, the time period, and the amazing level of historical detail in the books. This book did not disappoint on any of those accounts.
As I have read the series, I have
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enjoyed the way the characters have developed. In the first book, I felt that Maisie Dobbs was too controlled and too thoughtful and too perfect to be entirely believable. With each book, however, her character has become more complex and much more "real."
I'm looking forward to continuing to read books from this series!
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LibraryThing member BinnieBee
I received this book as an early reviewer. I really liked the way the mysteries were drawn out and solved as the story developed. I'm afraid I could not give it my full, undivided attention as I normally like to do when reading, but I had a lot on my mind when I was reading this book.

I will try to
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read more of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs novels when I am able to concentrate on them better. I actually think I have read some of her earlier books, but I have no recording of having read it.

I like her characters very much and I think Winspear does an excellent job of hinting at and then revealing the hidden secrets that make up the great mystery of this novel.
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LibraryThing member books4bert
This is the fifth in a mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear, a Maisie Dobbs novel. I now want to go back and read the first four because I learned so much about England between the Wars. Maisie finds herself in Kent during the harvesting of the hops, amid Londoners who want to earn some extra
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money and the Romy people in their caravans. She is hired to find out about arson fires in the village of Heronsdene and petty thefts. Part gypsy herself, she is able to glide between the world of the Romy people, especially the matriarch of a caravan named Aunt Beulah, and the rest of the villagers. The ending uncovers a secret known only to the villagers about an event that occurred in World War I.
I learned about gypsy life and customs, the picking of hops and England in general. Maisie was an independent woman living on her own and earning her own living. She drives an MG and it sounded so much fun driving back and forth between Kent and London.
British customs and prejudices were portrayed in a non-threatening way. So much of English life was restricted for women, and I came to see how the First World War slowly changed all that....less
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LibraryThing member cathyskye
Protagonist: Maisie Dobbs
Setting: Kent, England, 1931
Series: #5

First Line: The old woman rested on the steps of her home, a caravan set apart from those of the rest of her family, her tribe.

Businessman James Compton wants to buy an estate in the village of Heronsdene in Kent but hesitates after
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learning of a rash of mysterious fires. He hires Maisie to investigate. After meeting the current landowner, Londoners and a band of gypsies who are all there to harvest hops, Maisie soon learns that Compton was right to be suspicious. There's something else going on, too: the locals are very tight-lipped about a Zeppelin raid that killed an entire family in the village. It takes all of Maisie's skill to get to the bottom of it all.

I enjoy this series, not just for the characters and the twists and turns of the plot, but for the glimpse into the lives of the British in the years after World War I. The "War to End All Wars" wrecked havoc all over the nation, changing forever the way people viewed themselves, others, and the world around them. Winspear does a marvelous job weaving all these threads together in a series of books that enduce you to keep turning the pages.

Being a psychologist as well as an investigator helps Maisie with her investigations. Her experiences as a casualty clearing station nurse in France and all of her training give her insight into how to get answers to her questions. I had deciphered many of the clues in the book as I read, but the ending still had an impact. Human beings are indeed the most dangerous, and gullible, creatures on the planet.
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LibraryThing member aardvark2
In this Maisie Dobbs mystery, it’s autumn of 1931 and Maisie is in Kent during hop-picking season. She’s investigating a series of thefts and fires in a village in which her employer wishes to buy the property of the last remaining member of a gentry’s family. Londoners and gypsies, both
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there for the hop picking, are the obvious suspects, but Maisie’s investigation leads her back to WWI and a Zeppelin bombing of the village.

Continuing in this book is the story of Maisie’s past as a WWI nurse in France and her relationship with the doctor with whom she fell in love, and who was severely wounded. The relationship suffers a profound and permanent change.

Gypsies and their lifestyle play an important part in this book, and it is revealed that Maisie’s grandmother had been a gypsy. The annual migration of people to the country to participate in hop picking (which included the author’s grandparents) provides an interesting bit of history.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot is good, the characters interesting, the historical information well-woven, and Maisie herself continues to grow as a person.
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LibraryThing member lg4154
Maisie Dobbs was sent to investigate a potential land purchase. She travels to a village called Kent during the hop picking season. She finds a sinister dark force at work thru the town which divides it. Everybody is a suspect and the novel keeps you guessing. There are mysterious fires that erupt
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thru the town; each reference in the book has a deeper meaning. The novel also focuses on forms of prejudice and added to the small town microcosm. Almost, the townspeople could not think on their own, more like a bunch of followers than leaders. I loved the references about the dog. This was a nice touch and I can appreciate it being an animal lover. I did not like the references to the gypsies, it was kind of weird. I know that it is important to paint a background picture of Maisie. Otherwise, a pretty good book overall that captured my attention.
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LibraryThing member SWilley
I jumped into the series starting with this book and now I am going back to start at the beginning. I really enjoyed this book, the reading is not heavy so I could pick it up on a work night for pleasure reading, while at the same time feeling I was spending my time on something worthwhile. It was
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intelligently written and I loved the gypsy references. Can't wait to read more about Maisie Dobbs.
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LibraryThing member DrApple
I once again loved the historical setting of this Winspear book. This one added the element of gypsies (or Roma) to the atmosphere created by England after the first world war. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
LibraryThing member riverwillow
Maisie is such an interesting character, especially as, unlike a lot of fictional characters, her character feels very three dimensional. In this book she faces a number of challenges both personal and professional. Winspear is great at bringing in historical colour as she explores the annual
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London holiday to Kent hop picking as well as reminding us of how the scars from WWI lingered in Europe. My only criticism is that there wasn't enough of Billy in this book.
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LibraryThing member stephaniechase
While I am not a huge mystery fan, I am a huge Maisie Dobbs fan. Winspear writes eloquently about post WWI Britain and the scars felt by its citizens, British class society, opportunities for women, the rapid changes in life in the countryside and the city... and all with a wonderful voice, and an
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intensely likeable investigator in Maisie.
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LibraryThing member Kathy89
There was a lot of character development for Maisie in this book and also for Billie. The mystery was easy to solve as Maisie was hired to do an investigative report on property that her former benefactor's son wanted to purchase. Maisie deals with Simon's condition, his mother, her friend
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Penelope, mentor Maurice and her ailing father while befriending gypsies and solving the case of the stolen property.
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LibraryThing member Kimaoverstreet
The fifth book in the Maisie Dobbs series, An Incomplete Revenge, follows Maisie as she investigates a rash of crime in the Kent countryside for her patron's son, who is considering purchasing property there. Like the rest of the series, this book is rich in historical detail and full of
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well-developed characters. I highly recommend An Incomplete Revenge for followers of the Maisie Dobbs series!
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LibraryThing member auntieknickers
I've enjoyed all the Maisie Dobbs books, but I think this is the best yet. Winspear is a master at character development and at digging below the surface of our received knowledge of World War I and its aftermath to produce amazingly believable stories. Highly recommended.
LibraryThing member little_prof
Maisie is asked by her patron's son to investigate some irregularities surrounding a property he wishes to purchase. Maisie sees this as the perfect assignment to get her out of London for a bit and check in on the Beale family while they are picking hops in the country. Maisie arrives in the
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idyllic village only to be confronted with theft, arson, bigotry, and a pompous arrogant young landowner. Almost as disturbing are the secrets the villagers are keeping about a tragedy during the war and Maisie's own reactions to the group of gypsies that have come for the hopping. With villagers blaming their woes on the Londoners and the gypsies; and the Londoners blaming gypsies and villagers; and the gypsies mostly keeping their own council, Maisie will have to step lively to reach the truth. Luckily for her there is a gifted musician to provide accompaniment as she weaves her way through secrets and revenge.
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LibraryThing member tulikangaroo
This is the most approachable Maisie so far... she seems to be getting over herself a bit, which is good for all of us. I appreciate that in this book Maisie's "other" sense is, while not really downplayed, less of a fuss - I think that's why I have been hesitant to dive headfirst into the series.
LibraryThing member horacewimsey
Winspear has delivered yet again. The Inter-War Years is a great period, and Winspear does a splendid job of bringing that period to life through her Investigator/Psychologist Maisie Dobbs.
LibraryThing member hemlokgang
Another gentle, wise Maisie Dobbs mystery. it seems the norm for this series is that the crime at the center is only a metaphor for the human lessons being gleaned by all the characters, including Maisie herself. As I have read this series I am struck by the incredible, lasting impact of war on a
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nation's men, women and children. I really loved the opening section about Maisie's new love of color and weaving and the way that blends into the rest of the story.
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