Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
I reviewed the first book "Churchill's Secretary" (click here) and the second book "Princess Elizabeth's Spy" (click here) plus an author interview (click here.) Now the third installment in the series in out this month. It is hard to review it without spoilers because there are several twists, but here goes.
This is part of the Historical Mystery Reading Challenge (click here.)
Copyright: May 2013 (Bantam) 368 pgs
Series: 3rd in Maggie Hope Mysteries
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Intrigue
Main Characters: Maggie Hope, a spy who started as Churchill's secretary
Setting: WWII, England and Berlin
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Maggie is going on a big mission - solo. She will be air dropped into Germany and meet with the German resistance to accomplish two goals. She should only be there three days and then on her way back. She will be the first female spy sent into Germany. Everybody is nervous, particularly Maggie. Part of the book is told from the point of view of Elise, a young German nurse working in a Berlin Hospital who is a devout Catholic. Elise's best friend and fellow nurse is married to a Jewish Doctor and their lives are torn apart. Elise also worries about her mystery patient, a terrified pilot who has been recovering but doesn't speak, not a word. Then Elise becomes suspicious of what is happening to disabled children patients. Maggie and Elise's paths will cross and neither of them will be the same afterward. More of Maggie's family secrets are revealed and more surprises. Maggie won't make that three days only target, but the real question is whether she can get out at all. While Maggie is on the razor's edge spying, her dear friend and Churchill's right hand man, David is dealing with an increasing difficult personal life as his family pressures him to be something he isn't.
Maggie has come a long way as a character. She has worked hard in training to be a spy when she began as just a secretary. But this book provides her biggest challenge yet. She will have personal bombshells dropped and must maintain her cover, not just for her life but for the resistance members who are aiding her. Nurse Elise is gutsy while a little naive. She will face the horrors of what is happening and put her safety on the line when it counts. Clara Hess, who is part of Maggie's mission, is a survivor who will do whatever she must to come out on top. If you read "Princess Elizabeth's Spy" you are aware of Clara's personal connection to Maggie.
Berlin and Charite Hospital are portrayed so well that you feel the oppression, suspicions, and fear that are a dark cloud over the city while attending society parties. Well done.
Women were spies in WWII, mostly dropped into occupied France. So the idea of a woman spy being dropped into Germany isn't too much of a stretch. The plot line takes some hits in credibility because of the mystery patient in the Berlin hospital is a bit too convenient for Maggie to stumble across in her undercover role... and the patient's identity was too predictable. But I have to say that I still devoured it in-spite of that.
I found the climax to be exciting and thrilling yet tragic too. The wrap-up is actually realistic considering what Maggie goes through on her mission, she has some healing to do.
If you are a Maggie Hope fan and enjoyed "Princess Elizabeth's Spy," then you will find this novel even better. I really enjoyed it and found even the somewhat obvious plot twists to be engrossing. There are comparisons to Maisie Dobbs, but I don't see the writing styles being similar enough to fairly place them together. What is the strong point, in my view, for this book is the Maggie and Elise dynamic.
Rating: Excellent - I Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list