Wednesday, June 29, 2011

book review: An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

The backstory: An Incomplete Revenge is the fifth books in the Maisie Dobbs historical mystery series. My reviews of the first four: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, and Messenger of Truth.

The basics: James Compton, son of Lady Compton, reappears to ask Maisie to do some digging around a property he's considering buying. There have been fires and thefts over the years, and he wants to know if either present cause for concern.

My thoughts: For whatever reason, it took me quite some time to care about this mystery Maisie was so keen on. I enjoyed some of the background stories, and I tend to be fascinated by tales of small towns, but the plot of this book lacked much mystery, I thought. I plodded along enjoying Maisie and her insight through the first half of the book. Suddenly, the action picked up quickly, and I (foolishly, I know) realized I wasn't giving Maisie or Ms. Winspear enough credit. The second half of the novel soared and offered a fascinating resolution.

What I found most interesting, however, was unexpected resolution in several storylines. The cynical series reader in me thought Winspear would drag out many of those for several more books (if not indefinitely). I now see An Incomplete Revenge as a turning point for the series, and I'm eager to see where Maisie goes next.

Favorite passage: "Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth."

The verdict: Despite being my least favorite Maisie Dobbs book thus far, it felt like a re-birth for the series itself and allowed Maisie to grow and cope with some of her lingering issues. I'm still eagerly anticipating the sixth book, Among the Mad.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Length: 352 pages
Publication date: February 18, 2008 (it's in paperback now)
Source: I bought it for my Kindle (bundled with Among the Mad, the sixth book)

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  1. I started with the first book in this series last year, but didn't really fall in love with it like so many others did. I liked Maisie's back story and the parts about her life, but the mystery left a lot to be desired for me, and sort of stopped me from going further with this series. I am glad to hear that you liked them though, even though this one was a little lackluster. I have been avidly reading the reviews of the other books in the series to see if I might have been too hasty!

  2. I too didn't connect with the first book when I tried it about two years ago (maybe longer), but the premise is soooo my thing, I'm going to try again (someday). I really loved this review as I hate when a long series seems to drag on or not resolve some threads -- very exciting to see Winspear is allowing her character to evolve.

  3. first impressions, best impression, like that cover of the book.


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