Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Incomplete Revenge

I have been an avid reader of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series since the first book, Maisie Dobbs, was published in 2003. They are historical mysteries, set in England in the period between the wars. World War I has profoundly altered Maisie's life - she served as a nurse in the war - and the mysteries she solves tend to be linked to the war in some way, exploring complex situations tangled up in the war's aftermath. The first book in the series is more psychological and character driven, exploring Maisie's past, but the books that follow are more traditional mysteries.

In this installment of the series, Maisie is asked to investigate matters in Heronsdene, a village in Kent where her client is thinking of purchasing some land. A series of unexplained fires and some burglaries is of concern, and Maisie sets off to determine the underlying cause. It is the season for hops picking, and Maisie's assistant, Billy, is going with his family on their annual visit to the countryside to pick hops, breathe some fresh country air, and make a bit of money on the side. He and his family come to Heronsdene instead of their usual destination, so he is able to aid Maisie in the investigation.

On the surface the villagers are a friendly lot, although they are suspicious of the hops-picking Londoners and the group of gypsies that are there for their annual visit. There are certain matters, however, that they will not discuss - or, if pressed, they lie about outright. Maisie must pick her way carefully through the lies and misdirection to uncover a most horrible secret that lies at the heart of the current troubles of the picturesque village.

I enjoyed the audio version of this book very much - it is the first one I've listened to, and the narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, did a tremendous job with the voices, the accents, and the general storytelling style. The Maisie Dobbs novels tend to be quiet and powerful, psychological rather than action packed, with vivid descriptive passages that, when listened to aloud, are wonderfully evocative. The next book in the series will be published this month, and I intend to listen to the audio version of that one as well.

Books in the Maisie Dobbs series:
1. Maisie Dobbs
2. Birds of a Feather
3. Pardonable Lies
4. Messenger of Truth
5. An Incomplete Revenge
6. Among the Mad

An Incomplete Revenge (#5 in the Maisie Dobbs series) by Jacqueline Winspear; narrated by Orlagh Cassidy (BBC Audio Books America, 2008)

Also reviewed at: "Winspear's series is more about the atmosphere of the books, the feel of England after the War, when people were still smarting from their losses, a time that was slower than ours but which had seen its horrors."
A Reader's Journal: "Winspear brings together an interesting cast of characters and weaves an interesting tale of events that she brings together in a satisfactory conclusion. I love this series.


  1. I love these books. I just finished Among the Mad. These are books that I've kept, because I'm pretty sure I'll want to re-read them one day (a standard that not so many mysteries live up to).

  2. Oh noooooo! Not another one!

    Actually, this is great, because I've been looking for a mystery series since my mother got her hands on my copies of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series, and I won't be seeing them for a while.

    *happily goes off to put these on hold at the library*

  3. I haven't read this series before but I've heard good things! Oh, I love a good audiobook as they help make the books even better :)

  4. Jen - I'm excited that Among the Mad is here! I will be by to look for your review so I can see what you thought. I agree - this is one mystery series that is very re-readable (and I think I may going back to listen to some of these).

    Kiirstin - I love the Mary Russell books, and I'm so excited a new one will finally be coming out! Hope your holds come in soon. :-)

    Ladytink - When you're in the mood for an introspective, character-driven mystery series, give these a try. I think you'll enjoy them!


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