Monday, January 21, 2008

An Incomplete Revenge

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
"There were ghosts in this village--
ghosts who would allow the neighbors no rest" (4).
Maisie's latest case brings her and assistant Billy Beale to the village of Heronsdene in Kent. Viscount James Compton, the son of Maisie's benefactress, is interested in purchasing land and a brickworks on behalf of the Compton Corporation, but is concerned by a wave of vandalism in the community. He engages Maisie to help determine whether he can make a clean sale.

When two London boys down in the country to pick hops are falsely accused of theft, the village's problems begin to hit closer to home. As with many of her cases, there is more to the problem than meets the eye. This becomes apparent when Maisie is on hand to witness the villagers' reaction to an arson attack:
"There had been no surprise registered, no shock at a tragedy averted by a hair's breath of time. Instead, she had once again seen the emotion she was becoming familiar with in the course of her work in Heronsdene: fear. And something else: resignation, acceptance. As if the events of the evening were expected" (101).
Maisie must dig deep to uncover the roots of the problem and help heal the village of its ailment.

What I like most about this series is that although the books are mystery novels, they are less page-turning whodunits than well-crafted period pieces that happen to be mysteries. Throughout An Incomplete Revenge, Winspear displays her knowledge of the historical backdrop and social milieu of the interwar years.

Maisie is a charming, full-bodied protagonist. She's enchanting and likeable and real. Winspear's gift for characterization extends even to the non-recurring secondary characters. During the investigation, Maisie crosses paths with B.T. Drummond, a female reporter trying to make it in a man's profession, Alfred Sandermere, a landlord more comfortable with feudalism than modern times, and Beulah Webb, a gypsy matriarch with the gift of sight. Each of these characters adds to the story and Winspear seems to take pains to make them more than just stock characters.

An Incomplete Revenge is the fifth installment in Winspear's award-wining series, following Maisie Dobbs (2003), Birds of a Feather (2004), Pardonable Lies (2005), and Messenger of Truth (2006). While each book does stand on its own, those who pick up An Incomplete Revenge may want to read the earlier books simply to spend a little more time with Maisie and to learn more about her backstory.

Read the full review at Front Street Reviews...


  1. Sounds fascinating... and thank you for addressing how well the books stand alone, since when I got to the end I was going to ask about that. :)

  2. I haven't read this one yet, but your post reminds me that I must move it up the TBR pile, thank you.