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An Incomplete Revenge
Maisie Dobbs Series, No 5
Jacqueline Winspear

Picador; Reprint edition
2008 / ISBN 0312428189
Historical Mystery / Psychologist/Investigator / England-1931

Reviewed by L J Roberts

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. The number of coincidences is overwhelming; Maisie’s perfection at everything becomes tiring. Everyone is willing to talk to her. There is no struggle or effort really required; it’s all quite neat and rather placid.

For those who like cozies; no violence, no real threat, no swearing, no sex, no real evil, this would be perfect. Unfortunately, that’s just not my taste so although there were parts that were interesting, it was not really my cup of tea--single malt whisky, please.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Pardonable Lies, No 3
Messenger of Truth, No 4
An Incomplete Revenge, No 5
A Lesson in Secrets, No 8

Reviewed 2011
© 2011