I’m delighted to welcome you to the first stop on the blog tour for The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear. My thanks to Christina at Allison & Busby for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
London, September 1941. Freddie Hackett, a message runner for a government office, witnesses an argument that ends in murder. Hiding in the doorway of a bombed-out house, Freddie waits until the coast is clear. But when he arrives at his next delivery address, he’s shocked to come face-to-face with the killer.
Dismissed by the police when reporting the crime, Freddie turns to private investigator Maisie Dobbs. While Maisie believes the boy and wants to help, she must exercise caution given her work with the French resistance. When she spots the killer in a place she least expects, she soon realises she’s been pulled into the orbit of a man who has his own reasons to kill – reasons that go back to the last war.
Format: Hardcover (352 pages) Publisher: Allison & Busby
Publication date: 23rd March 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Crime
Find The Consequences of Fear (Maisie Dobbs #16) on Goodreads
Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops
I was a late arrival at the party when it comes to Jacqueline Winspear’s hugely popular series, my first introduction being The American Agent, the fifteenth outing for the intrepid and resourceful Maisie Dobbs. Ardent fans of the series will have been eagerly anticipating Maisie’s next adventure but even if – like me – you’re a recent convert, or indeed if The Consequences of Fear will be your first foray into Maisie’s world, I guarantee you’ll quickly be drawn into the story.
Although there are brief references to Maisie’s previous cases and it may take a bit of time to sort out the various members of her extended family, The Consequences of Fear can definitely be enjoyed by readers new to the series. Those familiar with her previous adventures will be pleased to see the return of characters such as Billy Beale, Maisie’s assistant in her private investigation business, intelligence chief Robert MacFarlane and Anna, her adopted daughter. Not forgetting, of course, Maisie’s ‘gentleman friend’, Mark Scott.
As well as the ever reliable Billy, Maisie has a number of resources to call upon to help with her investigation, including her friends Priscilla and Gabriella. As Maisie observes, ‘She had her worker bees, valuable contacts who would seek whatever information she needed, buzzing around their gardens of endeavour until they found the pockets of intelligence she had requested.’ Unfortunately, being one of Maisie’s ‘worker bees’ can sometimes be a risky business. And when all else fails, Maisie can call on her memories of the wise advice of her former mentor, Maurice Blanche.
The book’s title is cleverly explored in various ways. For example, as one character remarks early on in the book, “where secrets reside, so does fear – it’s the unknown.” It transpires there are indeed secrets to be revealed some of which go longer back in time than anyone might imagine. Whilst fear can be ‘the scariest of emotions…a seed in the fertile seed of doubt’, it can also bring much-needed alertness. ‘Fear had to be handled with care, managed so it became a tool, not a weight.’
Increasingly, Maisie feels the tension between the important but secret work she undertakes alongside the cases that come to her private investigation business, and her new caring responsibilities. It doesn’t help that her secret work involves potentially life or death decisions about others, or that Mark Scott’s equally confidential work takes him away frequently. Naturally, like the rest of the population, she’s also concerned about her family’s safety – the threat of further bombing raids and the possibility of invasion. ‘She realised that she had never trusted the world to keep herself or those she loved safe.’ It all leads at one point to Maisie concluding, “I think I’ve had enough”.
By the end of the book, I think even new readers will have come to the conclusion that Maisie doesn’t easily give in to fear when it comes to pursuing her investigations. But what about fear of commitment in her personal relationships? Should Maisie heed the advice that ‘Love is always worth the leap’? (I know my answer in Maisie’s case!)
The backdrop of wartime of London is vividly evoked: checking the blackout curtains as darkness falls, listening to the rumble of bombers overhead, navigating streets of bombed out houses, seeing young boys like Freddie Hackett running through the dark streets carrying messages between Air Raid Precautions depots.
The book’s conclusion sees scenes of both sorrow and joy, and – tantalizingly – a world on the brink of a new phase of the war. As a now committed Maisie fan, I say roll on the next book!
In three words: Gripping, intriguing, atmospheric
Try something similar: The Mathematical Bridge by Jim Kelly
About the Author
Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in Kent and emigrated to the USA in 1990. She has written extensively for journals, newspapers and magazines, and has worked in book publishing on both sides of the Atlantic. Her acclaimed Maisie Dobbs crime series, set in the aftermath of WWI, is beloved by readers worldwide. (Photo/bio credit: Publisher author page)