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by Jacqueline Winspear
HarperCollins, March 2021
352 pages
ISBN: 0062868020

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Author Jacqueline Winspear first introduced Maisie Dobbs to readers sixteen books ago, when this complicated and compelling character was a young nurse working near the front lines of the First World War. Now, decades later, it is October 1941 and the Second World War pulls her into a more sophisticated form of involvement. Although she still carries the scars from her first war, both physically and emotionally, she is presently working to help vet resistance fighters who will be sent into occupied France.

That, however, is only one of Maisie's jobs. As readers familiar with this series know, she runs an office that solves crimes, using psychological techniques that were taught to her by her great mentor, the brilliant Maurice Blanche.

In The Consequences of Fear, Maisie focuses on a murder case that Scotland Yard believes may not be a case at all.

A young boy, Freddie Hackett, who works as a runner, delivering messages across town for police and government officials, tells Maisie that he has witnessed a murder. There is no body where he says he saw this occur, so the police put it down to a child's imagination. The description of the murderer that Freddie gives seems to almost fit the boy's father, a violent and brutal drunk, but could his father really be tied to the murder?

Maisie believes in listening to children, so she begins to investigate, although her superior at Scotland Yard, Robbie Macfarlane, tells her not to. She finds blood stains in the area where Freddie says he saw the stabbing. Later, an identified body is fished out of the Thames. These point to the truth of what the boy has said, but for various covert reasons, Macfarlane still does not want to acknowledge that a murder has taken place.

Maisie makes connections to French resistance officers in England as she uses her powers of observation and intuition to solve this murder. She contacts an old friend, Gabriella Hunter, a woman Maisie has known for a long time, someone who she knows had once been a spy and had been close with Maurice Blanche. Whatever buried secrets this old friend knows almost kills her. But she does convey to Maisie the importance of honor for the French. This idea of honor becomes a central focus as Maisie discovers links to past events that may have present repercussions.

Characters whom we know from previous novels, her father, and other close relations, as well as her work colleague Billy and his family, all make appearances here and support Maisie in numerous ways. But, Maisie is faced with tough and far-reaching personal dilemmas. She has a beautiful adopted daughter, Anna, with whom she wants to spend more time and her relationship with Mark Scott, an American diplomat, is at a critical point. Will it end, or will she marry him? Maisie’s friend Priscilla, another character we have come to love, along with Priscilla’s extended family, have their own heartbreak in this book. As always, Winspear keeps us guessing about how the crime will be solved and what Maisie will decide to do with her life. The Consequences of Fear is a beautifully written, suspenseful and ultimately quite satisfying addition to the Maisie Dobbs series.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, February 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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