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An Incomplete Revenge
Maisie Dobbs series #5

by Jacqueline Winspear

      Nothing much happens in this novel. But nothing happens in such a wonderful way. Winspear has a way of taking us back to a time between wars, a time when the pain and hurt of World War I was too recent to dismiss and the fear of another was too soon to come. The picturesque British country town of Heronsdene, with its hop-picking and Georgian mansion, its gypsy travelers and quaint country folk, hints of a time when lords ruled the land. The reader expects to see a Tess or a Wakefield Vicar troubled by the loss of a love or a challenge to the hierarchy of the times. But as the novel progresses, the reader more likely will find the Baskerville hounds howling across the moors.

Nothing much happens. But what is revealed as Maisie investigates past actions makes their fires and thefts and Zeppelin attack seem insignificant. Yet those actions become the crux of the mystery revealed, the secrets kept buried, the lies denied and forced to surface, turning this quaint countryside town into a study of the human psyche forced to look deeply inside itself. Maisie Dobbs, the Londoner psychologist and investigator, is not immune from self-discovery, as her professional fašade melts away to reveal a woman hurting from the results of war and love and loss.

Nothing much happens. But nothing happens in a very compelling, delightful, and intriguing way. This novel is a page-turner, one that cannot be put down, one that is comforting and painful all at once, one that draws the reader into every conversation, every description, every emotion. It is a novel where the reader is thankful that not much more happens. What happens is quite enough to totally capture the reader.

The Book

Henry Holt and Company
February 2008
Hardcover (reviewed from ARC)
Historical Mystery / 1931
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The Reviewer

Chris Querry
Reviewed 2008
© 2008