With the country in the grip of economic malaise, Maisie Dobbs is relieved to accept an apparently straightforward assignment to investigate a potential land purchase. Her inquiries take her to a picturesque village in Kent during the hop-picking season, but beneath its pastoral surface she finds evidence that something is amiss. Mysterious fires erupt in the village with alarming regularity, and a series of petty crimes suggest a darker criminal element at work. A peculiar secrecy shrouds the village, and ultimately Maisie must draw on her finely-honed skills of detection to solve one of her most intriguing cases yet.
Her shoes, with a single strap buttoned at the side, were of plain black leather. A silver nurse’s watch was pinned to her lapel.
Maisie Dobbs is like the shoes she wears. Dependable. Sturdy. Stable.
You can pretty much count on her for an interesting case. It isn’t necessarily the most thrilling of mystery series, but the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear can always be depended for a good mystery read.
In case you’re new to Maisie Dobbs, this is the fifth book in the series. Dobbs lives in post-WWI London, has her own detective agency, was a former wartime nurse, and who rose up in society (she first started with a below-stairs job). Which is all well and good, but there is this thing that she does, a kind of psychic, putting out the feelers kind of thing, that helps her solve her cases. And that doesn’t always jive with me. And yet, here I am, reading the fourth book in the series. It’s curious, it really is. I find her coldness and her proper-ness a bit off-putting, and am uncomfortable with her psychic ability yet I keep going with this series. I think it is because of Winspear’s deftness with drawing up for the reader what post-WWI England was like, the feel of the streets, the society, even the economic situation. And for me, I always look forward to the appearance of her assistant Billy Beale, and her father, Frankie, a former coster-monger. Also, thankfully, An Incomplete Revenge relies relatively less on psychic weirdness, except for a spot of dowsing with a hazel stick. And brings Maisie not only to a small village in Kent but also to a tribe of gypsies.
I do think that among the four Maisie Dobbs books I’ve read, this one may be my favourite so far. It was well-paced, the mystery was interesting and weird enough (but not too weird), and other parts of Maisie’s life progressed and went along and it feels like she may be getting somewhere, emotionally and mentally. She has even taken up a class! She has things to do outside of her work!
There are 12 books in the Maisie Dobbs series. When I started this series, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would continue, but I did. And this fifth book has peaked my interest in Maisie’s life more – I can’t wait to see what else Maisie (and Winspear) has up her sleeve in the next book.
I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours.
Check out the other stops on the book tour. This is part of the Month of Maisie Readalong.
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Timesbestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.
Maisie Dobbs books:
Maisie Dobbs (2003)
Birds of a Feather (2004)
Pardonable Lies (2005)
Messenger of Truth (2006)
An Incomplete Revenge (2008)
Among the Mad (2009)
The Mapping of Love and Death (2010)
A Lesson in Secrets (2011)
Elegy for Eddie (2012)
Leaving Everything Most Loved (2013)
A Dangerous Place (2015)
Journey to Munich (2016)