The Consequences of Fear
As Europe buckles under Nazi occupation, Maisie Dobbs investigates a possible murder that threatens devastating repercussions for Britain’s war efforts in this latest installment in the New York Times bestselling mystery series.
October 1941. While on a delivery, young Freddie Hackett, a message runner for a government office, witnesses an argument that ends in murder. Crouching in the doorway of a bombed-out house, Freddie waits until the coast is clear. But when he arrives at the delivery address, he’s shocked to come face to face with the killer.
Dismissed by the police when he attempts to report the crime, Freddie goes in search of a woman he once met while delivering a message to her office: Maisie Dobbs. While Maisie believes the boy and wants to help, she must maintain extreme caution: she’s working secretly for the Special Operations Executive, assessing candidates for crucial work with the French resistance. Her two worlds collide when she spots the killer in a place she least expects. She soon realizes she’s been pulled into the orbit of a man who has his own reasons to kill—reasons with roots in another conflict.
As Maisie becomes entangled in a power struggle between Britain’s intelligence efforts in France and the work of Free French agents operating across Europe, she must also contend with the lingering question of Freddie Hackett’s state of mind. What she uncovers could hold disastrous consequences for all involved in this compelling chapter of the “series that seems to get better with every entry” (Wall Street Journal).
—Booklist, Starred Review
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
—The Seattle Times
“Once again, Ms. Winspear brings a vanished era to life with clarity and insight. Maisie Dobbs—businesswoman, widow, single mother of an adopted little girl, lady-friend of a dashing American diplomat—continues to mature and impress in her admirable mission to balance the scales of justice.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Jacqueline Winspear’s latest novel reminds us why we love Maisie Dobbs… For fans of historical fiction as well as mysteries, the Maisie Dobbs novels offer an honorable heroine whose mettle has been forged by personal tragedies and her country’s experience in two world wars…. an intriguing series that entertains and inspires.”
—The Washington Post (read more)
“Maisie Dobbs is by now a beloved old friend to Winspear’s loyal readers, who will welcome her sixteenth wartime adventure (after The American Agent, 2019). The fast-paced tale opens with runner Freddie—one of the boys employed to sprint through the streets of London with messages—witnessing a brutal murder. Maisie excels at creating family from acquaintances, and soon Freddie and his kin are part of her brood, lovingly tended as she continues her clandestine WWII work and on-the-side investigations into the killing and other knotty situations. Winspear never sugarcoats the horrors of war, and alongside the camaraderie shown by these characters and the Londoners surrounding them deliver terrible truths that must be endured. There’s romance here, too, with Maisie’s handsome American beau, Mark Scott, dashing in and out of London on his own often-secret work. More than in previous books, Maisie is growing tired of the constant blows to her circle and the uncertainties of life in wartime, with Winspear successfully showing a more melancholy side to her steadfast heroine. Fans of the series will need no encouragement to try this, and they’ll be thrilled with the ending; also recommend it as a less-weighty read-alike for Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (2014).”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“Set in the fall of 1941, bestseller Winspear’s outstanding 16th Maisie Dobbs novel (after 2019’s The American Agent) initially focuses on fleet-footed 12-year-old Freddie Hackett, who earns a few bob a week running government messages across London. One night, while racing across the city to deliver a message, Freddie witnesses a murder, but no one believes him, even when a body matching his description of the victim is pulled from the Thames—until Maisie’s compassion for his plight prompts her to begin an investigation. Forensically trained Maisie has been vetting prospective agents for the Special Operations Executive to assess young recruits’ psychological fitness for dangerous overseas assignments, and in Freddie she recognizes what would now be called post-traumatic stress. Could his psychological state have led him to imagine the violent encounter? The body is eventually identified as a Frenchman, and later, when a French SOE recruit dies mysteriously, Maisie discovers a connection between the two victims that stretches back to the previous war. Maisie and her loving family of supporting characters continue to evolve and grow in ways sure to win readers’ hearts. Winspear is writing at the top of her game.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“In Winspear’s newest World War II–set “Maisie Dobbs” entry (following An American Agent), the British are deep into the Blitz in London and Maisie is navigating life with her newly adopted daughter, her work as a detective, and her top-secret government assignments. She is also balancing a romantic relationship with an American intelligence officer, Mark Scott. The mystery opens with a young man named Freddie who witnesses a murder in the middle of a bombing. The police do not believe his story, so Freddie, a messenger for different government agents, comes to Maisie for help, as he has delivered messages for her in the past. As Maisie and her assistant, the dogged Billy Beale, dig into the details of the case and Freddie’s life, more shadows than facts are revealed. Maisie’s work with the British government as it assists the Free French Forces further complicates the case at hand. Like Winspear’s other novels, this one explores the characters’ minds, examining not only the facts but also the human psyche. VERDICT A must-read for Maisie Dobbs fans, this is an excellent fit for readers of historical and thoughtful mysteries.”
“October 1941 finds Maisie Dobbs continuing her espionage work while Great Britain in locked in a do-or-die fight against the Nazis. As she continues her secret work for spymaster Robbie MacFarlane while also running her detective business, Maisie’s affair with Mark Scott, her American counterpart, has reached an inflection point. Maisie is a mother, a nurse, a veteran spy, and a psychologist who sees that young Freddie Hackett, one of many speedy boys running messages around London, is at his breaking point. His father is a drunk who beats him; his mother is desperate to protect Freddie and her daughter who has Down syndrome. Now the police have blown off Freddie’s claim to have witnessed a murder. Since the killer turns out to be the recipient of the message he was on his way to deliver when he saw the crime, Freddie’s in a position to give an excellent description of him. Maisie, who’s found it harder and harder to vet people who may be sent off to work with the French Resistance, especially because so many of them will be tortured and killed by the Nazis, meets a French officer who fits Freddie’s description of the killer while she’s in Scotland reviewing a new group. But MacFarlane refuses to help her with the case because relations with the Free French require a delicate balance. Undeterred, Maisie uses her contacts to unveil a story of treachery and deceit dating back to the last war, knowing that all the balls she’s desperately juggling will come crashing down if she makes a mistake. A fast-paced tale of mystery and spycraft whose exploration of inner doubts and fears makes it much more.”
“Winspear’s sense of place is acutely evocative of wartime England’s fears and hopes. Dobbs remains a particularly strong and well-crafted character, with a compelling back story; the same can be said for her devoted friends, family and colleagues.”
—The Seattle Times
“Over 16 novels spanning three decades, Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs has lived. In real life, her quiet bravery, compassion and dogged pursuit of the truth would have made her one of the Greatest Generation, a lesson in survival under the grimmest circumstances…. the book’s greatest lesson of all is not to shrink from fear but to harness it—or as Maisie says: ‘We take the energy produced inside us by the act of being scared, and we use it to propel us forward.’”
—LA Times Review
“Like all of Winspear’s canon, this installment bears the trademarks that her readers have come to expect: humanity and heart, integrity and insight. Historical crime fiction that’s stirring and substantial, The Consequences of Fear represents not only a meditation on the title subject but also a rousing affirmation of how it can be controlled and conquered.”
—Jay Strafford, The Free Lance-Star
“Winspear has developed the character of Maisie into that of a mature woman, one who is self-aware and confident but still sometimes afraid to hope. Everyone in London in 1941 fears not only the bombs but the possibility of defeat and a Nazi invasion. We know they will prevail, but they do not, and this mystery novel captures that time perfectly, with characters who remain resilient and brave through two world wars.”
—Charlotte Stein, Parry Sound North Star