Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
I have followed and reviewed each of the books in the Maggie Hope series: #1 Mr. Churchill's Secretary (click here), #2 Princess Elizabeth's Spy (click here), #3 His Majesty's Hope (click here), #4 The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (click here), #5 Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante (click here) and a wonderful interview with Ms. MacNeal (click here). Today I review the newest addition to the series.
Copyright: Oct 2016 (Bantam) 368 pgs
Series: 6th in Maggie Hope Intrigue series
Sensuality: Medium on violence and adult themes
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth Mystery
Main Character: Maggie Hope, a spy who started as Churchill's secretary
Setting: 1942, London England
Obtained Through: Library
From the cover: "England, 1942. The Nazis’ relentless Blitz may have paused, but London’s nightly blackouts continue. Now, under the cover of darkness, a madman is brutally killing and mutilating young women in eerie and exact re-creations of Jack the Ripper’s crimes. What’s more, he’s targeting women who are reporting for duty to be Winston Churchill’s spies and saboteurs abroad. The officers at MI-5 quickly realize they need the help of special agent Maggie Hope to find the killer dubbed “the Blackout Beast.” A trap is set. But once the murderer has his sights on Maggie, not even Buckingham Palace can protect the resourceful spy from her fate."
Maggie gets her old house back and many of her original room mates return - but it isn't all a happy reunion. The challenge is to not become too jaded from everything she has been through. Ex-fiance, John Sterling is still in America and does not make an appearance. Mark Standish, a MI5 agent from Maggie's time in Scotland, is teamed with her for the investigation. Detective Chief Inspector James Durgin is a great new character, a pioneer in fingerprinting/profiling and a dedicated police officer, but he doesn't like the additional help with his investigation. I am looking forward to Durgin returning in future books, he grows on you. The Queen makes a delightful appearance a couple of times.
War torn London comes alive with lush details, which is a testament to the author's writing skills as much as extensive research. The Blackout Beast murders in the midst of blackouts for London's survival is spooky indeed. The story is peppered with instances of blatant chauvinism and harassment, which is prevalent at the time historically, and plays into the case in a significant way.
The killer reveal is white knuckle suspenseful. Threads are tied up with only a few left for the next book. Complications are also furthered to be worked out in the subsequent book.
Jack the Ripper copy cat, WWII suspense in beleaguered London, and personal complications make this book gripping and atmospheric. Ms. MacNeal doesn't disappoint in this more police procedural than intrigue addition to the series.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.