The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear is the 16th Maisie Dobbs novel. It was published by Allison & Busby 23 March 2021.
Today I have an extract to share.
That’s when he saw two men ahead, illuminated by a Bomber’s Moon and falling incendiaries. He didn’t like what he saw – there was shouting, and then the men were struggling, hanging onto each other, fighting, and he didn’t want to run into any trouble. This blimmin’ bombing was trouble enough. He slowed down, but felt a finger of fear, of warning, shimmy down his spine. A doorway offered refuge, but was he too close? Could they see him? Bloody hell, he might as well have asked for the lights to go on all over London. He flattened himself against the wall. If the house behind him hadn’t been a bombed-out shell, he would have knocked on the door and begged to be let in. He heard his heart beating in his ears and hoped that whatever was going to happen, happened soon – bombs he could tolerate, but people trying to kill each other when the Germans were trying to slaughter everyone in the blimmin’ country, well, no, he couldn’t understand that at all. People going for each other like that, it scared him something rotten.
Freddie crouched down in the doorway. One of the men appeared to have the upper hand now. He’d taken the other man and whisked him round, and had his neck in the crook of his elbow. Blimey, that bloke had big hands. Another flash of light and he saw everything, as if someone had turned up the gas lamp. The big bloke was wearing a raincoat, his dark hair swept back. If he’d had a hat, he wasn’t wearing it now. More flashes and the man was illuminated again. Who was that film star he looked like? Freddie had gone to the pictures one Saturday morning, spending the bit extra Larkin had given him out of his own pocket. Old Larkin was a good sort – it was as if he knew what it was like for Freddie at home. Victor Mature! That was his name. Lon Chaney Jr was in the picture too. It was called One Million B.C. But this bloke looked nastier than old Victor – and, blimey, that’s a scar.
More flashes of light, more crump-crump-crump as bombs fell. Freddie wanted to get moving, but was now paralysed by the violence before him. The big man with the dark hair pulled out a knife – Freddie saw it glint in the flashes of light coming from the skies. And then it was done. He saw the man push the knife straight into the other man’s left side, then pull it out, and with a snarl across his face, he plunged the weapon into the man’s heart. It wasn’t like one of those pictures at the Gaumont. This poor sod went down with his eyes wide open, blood pouring from his mouth, and the murderer – oh dear God, he had just seen a real murder – pulled the knife out of the dead man’s body and wiped it across his chest. For a second, Freddie thought he saw two men standing over the body, but his eyes had gone all blurry, so he wiped the back of his hand across his face to stop himself seeing double and looked up again in time to see the man – the killer – calmly put the knife in his pocket. He looked about him, then he’d gone on his way. Just walked off, steady as you like, into the darkness.
You can also find another extract today with Karen over at My Reading Corner.
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.