Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Princess Elizabeth's Spy

by Susan Elia MacNeal, Bantam, October 2012    
 Maggie Hope is a strong, intelligent female character worthy of a series

This is the second book in the Maggie Hope series penned by Susan Elia MacNeal.  It is a stronger more realistic story than the first.  WWII is well underway in 1940 London.   Maggie has been recruited into the British spy services after her stint as a secretary in Churchill’s Downing Street office.  Although one of the brightest agents she is disappointed to be assigned to Windsor Castle.  At the castle she masquerades as a math tutor for the Princess Elizabeth.  There have been reports that an assassination attempt will be made.  Maggie has hardly arrived when one of the ladies in waiting to the princess is murdered during a ride.  Maggie inserts herself into the routines of the castle to try to solve the case and protect the royal princesses.  There are plenty of suspects around including some British pacifists and a disgruntled gamekeeper whose German wife has been detained.  The upstairs/downstairs world of the castle is well described.    In addition to the case Maggie continues to try and find out information about her mother’s death in a mysterious car crash in 1916.  Maggie mourns her lost aviator from the first book, he is missing and no information is forthcoming.  So there is a lot going on in this story.

The real strength of this series is the author’s ability to recreate the Britain of WWII.  Her attention to detail both in the physical aspects of the setting and in the creation of characters is exceptional.  It’s always fun for me to read stories where real characters (here the royal family) are interspersed with fictional ones.  The author gets it right - down to the stutter that George VI was known for.  I am even forgiving of the somewhat sensational end to this story because everything that comes before it is so good. Maggie Hope is a strong, intelligent female character worthy of a series.   I am signed onto this historical fiction series, bring on the next book.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

I love historical fiction that places real characters among the fictional ones, so this sounds really good to me. I am curious now about this big ending as well, and can tell that it wasn't your favorite part of the book! Excellent review today!