TLC Book Tours: An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

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Synopsis:

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.

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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.

 

winspearJacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Timesbestsellers Leaving Everything Most LovedElegy for EddieA Lesson in SecretsThe Mapping of Love and DeathAmong 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.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

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)

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

 

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Synopsis:

In the third novel of this unique and masterly crime series, a deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton, KC, to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world. Determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive, Maisie is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission will bring her to France and reunite her with her old friend Priscilla Evernden, who lost three brothers in the war, one of whom has an intriguing connection to the case.

 

It’s always a bit odd reviewing a book in a series. Do I talk about the series expecting any blog readers out there to know about the characters and their background? Or do I have to begin at the beginning?

Good thing I actually have a post about the first Maisie Dobbs book, right here! So I can cheat a little bit.

But here’s what you might need to know about Maisie Dobbs:

– she was a nurse during the First World War

– she honed her investigative skills while under the mentorship of Dr Maurice Blanche and now runs her own agency

– her first job was as a maid, and her employer catches her reading in the library and sends her off to school. She’s a bit of a prodigy

– this book is set in 1930s London.

Pardonable Lies is the third book in the series.

And Maisie has not one but three mysteries to uncover. Two men lost at war. One young girl accused of murder. How will she manage?

To make things worse, there seems to be someone following her and trying to kill her!

That always makes things exciting.

And it is interesting to see how Winspear is developing her character – as well as bits about the other side characters that feature in Maisie’s life. Winspear has a good eye for details and setting the scene when it comes to 1930s London. Often it is subtle, the street scenes, the clothes Maisie wears, little details like bandages and newfangled technology like long-distance phone calls! I mean, how did detectives or the police manage then without recording devices?

But while I was reading this book, I had another on my mind that I was also reading (why yes, I always have several different books going at once – do you?). A different crime series, involving a rather precocious youth.

I know it’s unfair to compare Maisie Dobbs to Flavia de Luce. Flavia is young – a child really although if she heard me say that she would likely slip some poison into my next cup of tea or something more devious like eye drops. But she is so much fun to read about, and I feel like she’s become a good (imaginary) friend of mine. The Flavia de Luce series is one that I never hesitate to jump on, grab hold off and lose myself in.

And Maisie, well, compared to Flavia, there is an aloofness. Her work is her life. Sure the work might be exciting, thrilling even, but when she’s not working, I’m not all that sure who she is sometimes.

Again, as I mentioned, it’s not entirely fair. I’ve read seven Flavia books and just three Maisie Dobbs. So I’m still in the process of getting to know Maisie Dobbs.

She kind of reminds me of House MD, yes, the TV doctor addicted to Vicodin, whose love is not the medicine or the healing of the patients but about the puzzle. Especially when she talks like this:

“Sometimes it’s as if truth were like a festering wound, ready to break open and be cleansed. It seems as if the information I am seeking is just there, lying in front of me on the path, asking to be discovered, asking for a kind of solution – or absolution. Then again, it can evade me, like a small splinter that escapes under the skin. Then I have to wait, be patient. I have to wait for it to fester.”

One of the best things about reading a book like this is beginning to understand how life must have been like as a woman in those times, a single woman, a career woman, a woman who has come up in the world and risen above her ranks. It has such wonderful historical details of life during that time that the less-than-stellar plot resolution is easily forgiven. Hopefully the later books in the series – there are seven more for a total of ten books – will give me a better complete picture of Maisie Dobbs!

Pardonable Lies is a well-researched, atmospheric, fun read. I would encourage those who are interested in historical fiction and less traditional mystery series to give Maisie Dobbs a try.

winspearJacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most LovedElegy for EddieA Lesson in SecretsThe 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.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

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I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Check out the other tour stops!

TLC Book Tours: The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Care and Management of Lies

Jacqueline Winspear, author of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series, steps into standalone territory with her latest book, set just before and during World War One.

Kezia and Dorrit (who now prefers to be known as Thea) have been best friends since they were schoolgirls, but their relationship isn’t as it once was. Kezia is to give up her teaching career to marry Thea’s brother and become a farmer’s wife. Thea, being a passionate supporter of women’s suffrage, is more than a little disappointed in her friend’s decision. And her wedding gift, a book on household management, reflects her very sentiment.

But Kezia actually puts it to good use, throwing herself wholeheartedly into her new role as wife and household management. She experiments with herbs and spices, rosemary being a favourite, surprising her husband Tom and the farm hands who are used to far simpler fare. Like pies. And who probably hadn’t seen a garnish (or even heard of the term) before.

But the war is soon upon them and Tom volunteers, along with most of the village men. Kezia’s letters – and her descriptions of the meals that she prepares for him in her imagination – serenade Tom and his fellow soldiers through the long and weary nights. Tom is having an especially hard time at the front, unfortunately scapegoated by a hardened career soldier who doesn’t like all these new recruits entering the war all fresh and unsavvy.

Thea too has volunteered as an ambulance driver, and even Kezia’s father, the Reverend Marchant, is ministering to the troops.

Such loyalty, such bravery as they soldier on in their own ways. Kezia pulling her own weight back home in England, whether it be by managing the farm and household, or keeping spirits up by sending her fruitcakes and letters to the warzone.

Kezia’s letters and meals are such a delight. Her adventures in householding may seem trivial to some but perhaps because I spend quite a bit of my time figuring out meals and reading about food and yes, daydreaming about meals, I am always thrilled to find descriptions of food in fiction.

The beginning cook starts out overcooking her meat, making too-doughy bread, ties up cauliflower with string for boiling. But goes on to impress everyone with her piquant meat pies, her spicy sweet walnut cakes. Her meals all made with love and devotion:

“It was as if Kezia had poured her heart into the cake, so that when Thea took a bite, which she did, later, with a cup of tea, she felt the old warmth of friendship return. She could taste companionship itself, and she longed for her beloved Kezzie to be there, in the room with her, crumbling the cake and counting out walnuts.”

One of the things that I really liked was how Winspear wrote in the various roles played in the war. Not just the soldiers, like Tom, in the trenches, but women like Thea driving the ambulances and being responsible for their maintenance and upkeep, and the Reverand Marchant, who crawls out onto no-man’s-land to offer last rites and lands a hand in the hospital tents. And those who remained in England, having to sacrifice their horses and their land to help with the war effort.

The story moves not only because of the pain and sadness of war, but also the way passage of time can alter friendships and change people. It may be a bit of a slow-moving narrative but it is heartfelt and poignant, especially on this 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

 

winspearJacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels featuring Maisie Dobbs, a former World War I nurse turned investigator. Originally from the United Kingdom, Winspear now lives in California. Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

 

 

 

tlc logoI received this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the rest of the tour stops:

 

Monday, May 19th: Helen’s Book Blog

Tuesday, May 20th: Kritters Ramblings

Thursday, May 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, May 26th: bookchickdi

Tuesday, May 27th: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, May 28th: A Bookworm’s World

Thursday, May 29th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

Thursday, May 29th: Historical Tapestry

Monday, June 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, June 3rd: Olduvai Reads

Wednesday, June 4th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, June 5th: My Bookshelf

Friday, June 6th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, June 9th: The Written World

Tuesday, June 10th: From L.A. to LA

Wednesday, June 11th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Thursday, June 12th: A Patchwork of Books

Friday, June 13th: A Chick Who Reads