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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review - The Prisoner in the Castle

I have followed and reviewed each of the books in the Maggie Hope series since the beginning:  #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), #6 The Queen's Accomplice (click here), #7 The Paris Spy (click here), and a wonderful interview with Ms. MacNeal (click here).  Today I review the newest addition to the series, which can be read as a stand alone, if you haven't read the seven prior books.

Author: Susan Elia MacNeal

Copyright: August 2018 (Random House-Bantam) 400 pgs

Series: 8th in Maggie Hope Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: historical Suspense

Main Characters: Maggie Hope, a spy who started as Churchill's secretary 

Setting: 1942 London and Scottish Island during WWII

Obtained Through: Netgalley

"A series of baffling murders among a group of imprisoned agents threatens the outcome of World War II in this chilling mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

World War II is raging, and former spy Maggie Hope knows too much.

She knows what the British government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

She knows the real location of the planned invasion of France.

She knows who’s lying. She knows who the double-crossers are. She knows exactly who is sending agents to their deaths.

These are the reasons Maggie is isolated on a remote Scottish island, in a prison known as Killoch Castle, out of contact with friends and family.

Then one of her fellow inmates drops dead in the middle of his after-dinner drink—and he’s only the first. As victims fall one by one, Maggie will have to call upon all her wits and skills to escape—not just certain death . . . but certain murder.

For what’s the most important thing Maggie Hope knows?  
She must survive."

Maggie, who originally started out as Churchill's Secretary and is now a Major and has completed some harrowing missions but now is under house arrest of sorts because she knows who is willing to sacrifice British agents to keep a secret.  Detective Chief Inspector James Durgin who was introduced in the Queen's Accomplice, is the only one asking where Maggie has disappeared to under the guise of needing her to testify in the Blackout Beast serial killer trial.  David Greene, Maggie's good friend and Churchill's personal assistant teams up with Detective Duggan in asking what happened to Maggie.  The house full of detainees is complex and they each have their issues. Then there is the household staff who who have their own secrets.  

The setting of a remote Scottish island is pure Gothic gold.  It provides the chilling atmospheric backdrop for multiple murders. The most important part is that the author knows how to maximize the setting for a Hitchcock-like ratcheting of suspense.

The plot uses the framework of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" with the added tension of WWII and each resident is a trained British Agent under house arrest for any number of reasons, plus one may be a double agent.  There have been many re-creations of Christie's classic, but this novel took the concept to a whole new level.

The killer reveal/confrontation is nail biting thrills and chills.  The author has made such gripping reveals a trade mark and she never fails to have me at the edge of my seat.  Well played, yet again.  The pacing is a little slow at the beginning to setup the conditions on the island and introduce the house full of incarcerated guests.  But the first murder is soon discovered and the pace doesn't let up from there.

For the eighth book in the series, Ms. MacNeal knocked this out of the ball park.  I can see this as a blockbuster movie easily.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 



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1 comments:

Danal Gerimon said...

It's the best thrilling novel.

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