Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs novels make an entertaining addition to the reading list of anyone who enjoys mysteries by Agatha Christie or Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books.
Set in England between the wars, Maisie runs her own detective agency – but she’s an investigator with a special talent. As a trained psychologist she has the knack of sensing when things are not quite what they seem and so it goes with An Incomplete Revenge.
Maisie’s wealthy chum, James Compton, wants to buy an estate and brickworks near the Kent township of Heronsdene, but petty crime and unsolved arson attacks have him worried. When James hires Maisie to look into the case, she quickly dispatches her assistant and general factotum, Billy, to work on the estate, where hop-picking is underway and gypsies have made camp.
Maisie meanwhile talks to people in the town, finding out about Alfred Sandermere, lord of the manor, whose drunken exploits upset the locals. There’s also the story of a wartime tragedy when an enemy zeppelin unloaded a bomb on the village bakery, killing an entire family.
Family secrets and the reluctance of the townsfolk to speak of the past keep the reader guessing. Before the novel is out, Maisie will learn a trick or two from the gypsies, and must confront the sorrow of her own wartime loss. An Incomplete Revenge is a light, diverting read that conjures up a summertime atmosphere of village life between the wars and has enough plot twists to make this a classic whodunit.
Posted by JAM
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