The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear
There are many facets of the Masie Dobbs story – this is the sixteen book that tells of her life and adventures. However, it is so well written that this book stands alone as a story of the Second World War, set in London 1941 when Britain still seems to fear the threat of invasion. When a messenger boy witnesses something which disturbs him even more than the continuous bombing of London which he has been trying to outrun, he turns to Maisie for help as a private investigator. What Freddie and a lot of people do not know is that Maisie is also working with those who are secretly trying to help the French cause, and it is this dangerous work that is making her wonder about all of her relationships.
As with all of Winspear’s novels this book benefits from an impressive amount of research, into the role played by boys who could run fast, the effects of the First World War on the men and women who were there, and the role of the British Secret services during the present conflict. Even without the element of mystery this would be an impressive book of historical fiction, such is Winspear’s sure understanding of the costs of total war. This skilled author never slows the story with extra information, it emerges naturally as part of the narrative. Maisie as always is the central figure, relying on her training from her mentor, her experience and her intuition to make the most of her contacts. Her work is against the background of her love for her daughter, for her family and friends that she has such a strong interest in from long term affection. This book is a wonderful read for Maisie Dobbs fans, but also those coming new to the characters. I was so very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this excellent book.
The Prologue sets out the story of Freddie Hackett, a boy who can run fast, knows London and has good reason to be observant and wary. When he witnesses a murder, he reports it to the police, but he knows that they will be difficult to convince without any evidence. He realizes that he must tell “Someone who would believe him.” Meanwhile Maisie is saying a temporary goodbye to her daughter Anna, and dealing with questions about “Uncle Mark”, an American that she is apparently having a relationship with in London. Her return to London from the village where she has gathered those whoshe loves is to discover her assistant embroiled in the cases that he is able to deal with, as well as the plight of Freddie who has been turned away from Scotland Yard. She determines that the boy is not lying, but can see that there is little specific evidence. She meets up with Robert MacFarlane to attend to her secret War work, which is difficult and secret and on this occasion particularly challenging on several levels. It is why she is beginning to wonder if she can really continue with her present life, especially when she gets more evidence of the worse that people are capable of in a time of uncertainty.
This is a brilliantly written book of twists and turns, surprises and revelations. It is a compelling read as it seems effortlessly to combine the challenges faced by a talented woman torn by her loyalty to those she loves and the common effort to do the right thing. I recommend this as a satisfying read, and an excellent addition to the Maisie Dobbs series.