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Saturday, April 26th, 2008
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An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries)

by Jacqueline Winspear

Revenge Isn't Swet

A review by Carrie Uffindell

Psychologist and sleuth Maisie Dobbs returns for her fifth adventure in An Incomplete Revenge, a mystery novel by Jacqueline Winspear. Set in England in the autumn of 1931, 13 years after the end of the Great War, Revenge probes the darkness which lies beneath the surface of picturesque Heronsdene, a small village located in rural Kent.

Maisie, now fully recovered from a nervous breakdown she suffered during an investigation the year before, is approached by James Compton, an old friend and businessman. James wishes to purchase a potentially valuable brickworks from Alfred Sandermere, but is worried about the mysterious fires and thievery erupting in the nearby village of Heronsdene. Fearing that the petty crimes are caused by the villagers, whose cooperation he'll need to run the brickworks, James hires Maisie to investigate.

After arriving in Kent, which is in the midst of its annual hop harvest, Maisie swiftly encounters the bitter prejudice between the villagers of Heronsdene and the hop-pickers, a mixture of Londoners and Gypsies who work on the farms surrounding the village. With both compassion and understanding, Maisie begins questioning the villagers, Londoners, and Gypsies, all of whom are eager to point the finger at the other.

As Maisie's investigation continues, more and more questions crop up. Were the fires merely a series of mishaps, or were they arson? Why do the villagers refuse to speak of those who perished in a Zeppelin raid during the war over 13 years ago?

As she investigates the crimes and secrecy surrounding Heronsdene and the Sandermere estate, Maisie must once again confront her own past, including a reunion with the mentor who betrayed her and the loss of her first love, army doctor Simon Lynch.

While some of the plot twists may be predictable, An Incomplete Revenge is a rich, satisfying read. Winspear's writing and research are excellent, firmly entrenching the reader in Maisie's world, as she and her country struggle to heal from the wounds inflicted by the Great War.

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