Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Whenever I get a new Maggie Hope book everything else in my life drops by the wayside while I turn my back on the world to read. The series is moving slowly through the WWII years, this is the fourth book and it’s just getting to Pearl Harbor, but that is no criticism because the details of the changing circumstances and moods of the time are fascinating, and the story plots within the books race along.
With her determined personality and a knack for codes, languages, and mathematics Maggie has come a long way since the first book where she worked as one of Winston Churchill's secretaries, and she’s become one of my favorite characters. Her brains, perseverance, and good intentions coexist with human emotions, physical limitations, and flaws in judgment so she’s no superhero, which I find a lot more interesting.
In the last book Maggie parachuted into Germany where she worked undercover as a spy, encountering her Nazi mother for the first time since she was a baby. The harrowing things she discovered and had to do mean Maggie is grappling with depression and what we would now label PTSD as this book opens, but overall The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent isn’t quite as unsettling as its predecessor. Maggie has been staying at a remote estate in Scotland training spies to undertake missions like her own, but when she’s forced to take some R & R in Edinburgh because her emotional state is interfering with her work, the trip is anything but restful. The friend Maggie went to visit gets caught in a deadly scheme, and to save her Maggie forces her way into an MI-5 operation that involves murder, ballet, and biological weapons.
The books in this series always have several interconnected plot-lines, which this time around involve Maggie’s Nazi mother, who’s now a prisoner in the Tower of London awaiting execution, Winston Churchill, who’s hoping the Americans will finally join the war effort, and various Japanese and American officials, who are supposed to be trying to prevent war. Ian Fleming (debonair) and J. Edgar Hoover (cantankerous) have cameo appearances. This is a work of fiction of course, but I’ve learned a lot of history from the series because author Susan Elia MacNeal has thoroughly researched the era. She lists her sources in an appendix at the end of each book, and she always makes clear where her stories incorporate historical fact and where some artistic license is in use--something I greatly appreciate.