Monday, November 1, 2021

Review: The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear

by Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 23, 2021
2021 Harper
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062868022
Audiobook: B08BWWZQC7
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery 
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
September 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 when delivering a message: 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 that go back to the last war.
My Thoughts
The Consequences of Fear is the latest in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series, and unfortunately, it was not one of my favourites in this series.  I have been reading this series since the first book was published, and it definitely hurts me to give this book a lower rating, but I just didn't find the story, and mystery, as interesting as usual.
First of all, I thought with WWII and most of the able-bodied men on the front lines, the story would finally focus on the heroic efforts of those left behind as there is so much fodder for the author to draw on for her characters in war-torn London.  Having Maisie work on her cases, with Billy, during this time period would have been so fascinating and she could have still done her work for the SOE, on the side.  However, the author has chosen to make that work the forefront of the story, put Billy in the background yet again, and created this convoluted story that, while interesting, just doesn't fit well into the Maisie Dobbs world.  Frankly, I am surprised that, out of all the stories that existed during this time period, that was the one that was chosen.   

I normally love Maisie, but I loved her when she was independent and wasn't afraid to make her own decisions and take risks because she thought those risks were worth it.  This Daisy was different, and although I understand she now has a child to take care of, and is in a romantic relationship, and is struggling between those two worlds, having her sit in her office while others do the work will be rather boring and why would I read about that? I've never understood why romance always needs to be included in a woman's life for a character to feel fulfilled.  I also thought the author tried to hard to make Mark sound American which made him sound foolish. 

The author's writing skills are never in doubt, but Maisie was a mess of emotions in this one, and frankly, I was on Robby's side when it came to decision-making: Maisie was using her emotions rather than her common sense to make important decisions and frankly, I am not sure why she would have been chosen for such an important role in the first place.  I have read all the books, and I must have missed something important, but how did Maisie suddenly become a factor in who gets chosen to go as a spy for the Resistance in France?  What qualifications does she have to be able to do so just by reading a file and doing an interview?  I feel that was pushing historical details just a bit too far in my opinion. And for whatever reason, I also thought the author spent a lot of time recapping previous cases when Maisie has to rely on old acquaintances for help.  Personally, I think this is lazy writing and isn't necessary, especially if it happens frequently in the story as it bogs down the overall plot and makes it hard to read.  

And as a Canadian, one of my biggest issues is the author's constant reference to Great Britain fighting alone during this time period when Canada definitely declared war on September 10, 1939 against Germany. Australia, New Zealand, and India declared on September 3.  I think the author made a huge mistake by constantly mentioning the fact they were waiting for their American saviours and ignoring the heroic efforts by these other countries during this time period.  

The Consequences of Fear is probably my least favourite Maisie Dobbs novel.  While I enjoyed the interactions between Maisie and her family and friends, and I absolutely adore Billy, I really feel like this novel has taken a turn in a direction I was hoping it wouldn't. The focus used to be on cases centred around London, with Billy and Maisie investigating, and their dynamics were quite interesting and fascinating as they worked together in an intriguing historical setting.  The mystery took a backseat to her relationships in this one, and in the previous one as well, and this is the first time I actually had to stop reading and read something else for a while.  One conversation between Brenda and Maisie almost made me DNF the entire book.  I am really hoping that in the next one, Maisie and Billy will go back to their investigations as they were so much more interesting. 


  1. Good review. Every author falters; one just hopes it doesn't become a trend.

    1. I agree. I am not ready to give up on this series yet, but the last couple of books have gone in this direction so we will have to see.