Book Review – The Consequences of Fear – Jaqueline Winspear – Quaint Old Time Detective Novel
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Consequences of Fear
This is my first experience of reading Jacqueline Winspear and her Maisie Dobbs series, and I come away super impressed and captivated. Since this is set between the two World Wars – this particular one in 1941, there is justifiably an old world feel to it. The era from which Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple all held forth and have given us brilliant detective stories – mostly without the aid of any technological tool, just shrewd inferences and clever deductions following reason and logic.
The language is charming – a dramatic shift from the expletive ridden cop speak that we get to read these days, accompanied by the much loved dry British wit. The setting is sombre – World war II is in full swing, the US has still not stepped in, and Germany has invaded France and carries out nightly air sorties across the channel, to bomb London into the ground. Young Freddie Hackett, is a boy messenger, who carries secret messages from one end of London to another, between the secretive departments of the Government. Charles De Galle is in exile in London and is trying to lead the French Resistance movement from here.
On one such run across London, Freddie witnesses a murder on a bombed out street – two men fighting and then one knives the other. Freddie steps out of his hiding place after the murderer is gone and shakily continues on his way to deliver the message in his care. But another surprise awaits him at the address he’s to deliver the letter to, the same man who Freddie saw commit the murder is the recipient of the letter. A thoroughly confused and scared Freddie, approaches Maisie – an officer in the British Intelligence Services and a private investigator on the side – to help him out.
Freddie’s approach to the Scotland Yard was brushed aside after a cursory visit to the scene of crime, where no body or other evidence of a crime could be found. But Maisie finds the boy’s story quite believable and though her boss, Robbie McFarlane, discourages and demolishes her theories, Maisie keeps going until she can find the truth. There is conspiracy at an international level and secrets hiding in the layers of war from another bygone era. But the dogged Maisie and her persistence shakes the perpetrators confidence and more murders and attempts take place. But Maisie carries on undaunted….
Conclusion – Book Review of The Consequences of Fear
The novel is brilliantly planned, written with a lot of research having been done and it really does take you back in time. There are passages where the effects of domestic violence on children are poignantly highlighted, and you really wonder that people haven’t really changed that much. But probably more help is available today to those affected children and before lasting damage on their psyche can occur, something can be salvaged.
I thoroughly enjoyed the settings in the English countryside, and though the damages of War cannot be celebrated, every reading of a book based on those times, raises the question whether we have learnt any lessons from then or not. For the lovers of pure detective novels, this is pure gold, just go for it!
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