Women with power may be a threat to some but Susan Elia MacNeal uses this timely theme in her latest Maggie Hope murder mystery – The Queen’s Accomplice. With the same British flavor as her other five books in the series, MacNeal features the young British secret service agent with a flair for logic in the search for a Jack the Ripper clone who has been killing women agents. Since first meeting Maggie Hope in MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, I’ve enjoyed her feisty attitude and mathematical acumen. Her forays into romance with fellow agents help too.
The Queen in this book is not the newly popular Victoria nor the young Elizabeth of the new Netflix series “The Crown,” but Elizabeth’s mother, who stood by her husband, King George, during the war. Although she only has a minor role in the plot, MacNeal confirms the Queen’s influence and wartime support. As a modern woman of the nineteen forties, Maggie Hope has many of the same issues as women today, and has the support of other women, including the Queen.
MacNeal cleverly connects Maggie’s service in the war to ongoing problems women face in their personal lives and in the workplace. Although the book is a mystery with a killer to be found, the story offers confirmation of women’s rights in making their own decisions, and in being valuable for their contributions to society.
The book ends with a new adventure about to start, as Maggie waves goodbye to the Queen and boards a plane to Paris. The Paris Spy will be published this summer – I can’t wait.
Reading myself to sleep with:
- Sophie Kinsella’s newest British escapade with Becky Brandon (this is the seventh) – Shopaholic to the Stars
- The latest installment of the Maggie Hope mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal – The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent
And when I feel serious, I thumb through Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, as sobering as promised in his interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show – a book about the inevitability of death. Despite modern medicine, we all die. Just as Stewart balanced the interview with humor, I counter the heaviness by alternating with the escapades and adventures of Becky and Maggie.
As a fourteen year in danger of being kidnapped by the Nazis, the future Queen of England is the foil for the second Maggie Hope mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal in “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy.” With the same charm as her first Maggie book – “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” – MacNeal combines espionage with World War II history.
If you haven’t read the first book in the mystery series, MacNeal brings you up to date on continuing characters and introduces a few new ones. Maggie’s father reappears to add drama to the plot with his questionable past as a double agent.
As part of her undercover persona, Maggie, a math whiz and British citizen who grew up in the United States, tutors the young Elizabeth in algebra and codes that she can use to communicate secretly. A new romance is brewing between Maggie and a fellow spy, and the relationship between Prince Philip and the future Queen Elizabeth is just beginning. With some help from Churchill, Maggie thwarts the villains in an exciting finale on Christmas Day at Windsor Castle.
A fun easy mystery with a heroine who has the flavor of an intelligent Bridget Jones, Maggie Hope has become one of my favorite sleuths.
Number Ten Downing Street, with Churchill as the P.M. and Germans bombing London, is the setting for Susan Elia MacNeal’s first book in the Maggie Hope spy mystery series – Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. With a mix of Bridget Jones panache and Ian Fleming espionage, MacNeal establishes a new sleuth with a mathematical brain and the charming mix of English parents and American upbringing.
Maggie Hope defers her acceptance into the Ph.D. program at M.I.T. to travel to London to sell the old Victorian house bequeathed to her by her British grandmother. When the war starts, she takes on roommates and, despite her qualifications, can only get a job as a typist.
Secret Messages in Fashion Drawings
Spies are everywhere, and Maggie soon uncovers a code hidden in an ad for women’s dresses. MacNeal supplies a reference in her historical note about Nazi agents in England embedding Morse code in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions. Maggie finds Morse code in the hem of a dress.
The secret of Maggie’s father’s disappearance as well as the murder of one of Churchill’s staff add to the suspense, and the action escalates with a plot to murder Churchill and bomb St. Paul’s Cathedral. Along with descriptions of the horrors of London during the Blitz, MacNeal includes excerpts of famous speeches and lovely poems you may want to memorize.
By the end, Maggie has saved the day and been offered a promotion. A fun, fast read with both history and adventure – and a possible romance brewing for the beautiful and brilliant red-head.
Thanks to Amy for introducing me to Maggie Hope. I can’t wait for the next book in the series – Princess Elizabeth’s Spy – to be published in October. In the meantime, as Churchill advises – KPO (Keep Plodding On).