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An Incomplete Revenge: A Maisie Dobbs Novel    by Jacqueline Winspear order for
Incomplete Revenge
by Jacqueline Winspear
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

An Incomplete Revenge is the fifth in Jacqueline Winspear's post World War I series starring the incomparable Maisie Dobbs. After Maisie went into service for the Compton family at age thirteen, her enlightened employer arranged for her to be tutored by private investigator Maurice Blanche, who taught her to use her considerable intellect. Maisie attended Cambridge for one year but interrupted her education to serve as a nurse in France after the outbreak of war. There she fell in love with a young doctor, Simon Lynch, who was left in a coma by a shell blast that left Maisie wounded in both mind and body.

After the war, Maisie, a seeker of truth and a healer, set herself up as a private investigator assisted by East Ender Billy Beale. Now, in An Incomplete Revenge, Maisie is hired by James Compton to do background research for his company's acquisition of a brickworks on an estate outside Heronsdene, a village in Kent that has long suffered mysterious fires and vandalism. James has doubts about the integrity of the landowner, Alfred Sandermere, and wonders what's behind the petty crime - not to mention the villagers' surprising acceptance of it and silence on the subject.

It's hop-picking season in 1931 Kent and the Beales (still grieving over their beloved daughter Lizzie's death from diphtheria) have already arranged a working holiday near Heronsdene, a place that holds 'ghosts who would allow the neighbors no rest.' Maisie soon delves for information on a wartime Zeppelin raid that killed a Dutch family of three, and contacts gypsies whose matriarch Beulah has visions of what's to come. As Maisie puzzles over the past and wonders why villagers keep the ongoing vandalism to themselves, she must also deal with the fact that the love of her life is finally dying, and make her peace with Simon's mother.

Of course, Maisie uncovers the truth that she seeks - and it's a shocker, involving the unscrupulous manipulation of wartime fears, guilt and a passion for revenge. Along the way, Maisie finally accepts her own wartime losses and reclaims her grandmother's gypsy heritage. An Incomplete Revenge is one of the best entries in Jacqueline Winspear's excellent Maisie Dobbs series, and I'm very much looking forward to finding out where life takes this talented and vulnerable heroine next.

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