It is 1941 and Barry is evacuated from heavily bombed Liverpool to live with his grandmother in neutral Ireland. He doesn’t want to leave his mother but she insists he must be safe. She is working in a munitions factory while his father is away fighting in the Royal Navy. His grandmother arranges for him to meet Grace, also a sort of evacuee as her home was bombed in one of the few raids on Dublin. Their friendship grows and he tells her of his suspicions of Mr Pawlek, a Polish teacher at his new school, who seems to be overly interested in where Barry’s mother works in Liverpool. Barry is convinced Mr Pawlek is a spy and the two decide to break into his house to try and discover if he has a radio or other incriminating equipment. They get more than they bargained for when Pawlek returns unexpectedly and catches them.
The feelings of an evacuated child are well drawn. Barry worries about his mother and especially about his father whom he has not seen for some time. His friendship with Grace grows slowly as it would have done, although her sorting out of the bully who threatens him is a little unrealistic, although it shows what a feisty character she is. The anti-British feeling in Ireland is not hidden from the reader and the relatively unfamiliar surroundings of a neutral country help add to the variety of books about children during the Second World War.
However, the plot becomes implausible when the two children, having broken into his house, are captured by Pawlek, tied up and driven out of Dublin, where they manage to free themselves and disarm and disable him. What had been a plausible story about children dealing with life in wartime, with inevitable suspicions of strangers, becomes unbelievable.