Review: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2) by Susan Elia MacNeal

Being a spy sounds so much cooler and glamorous without all the physical training doesn’t it? That’s exactly what’s running through Maggie Hope’s mind while she’s at Camp Spook.

After helping uncover a terrorist cell and cracking some difficult codes is the first book, Maggie has been recruited to work for MI5….an opportunity she simply can’t pass up there’s only one problem….the biggest muscle in Maggie’s body is her brain.

But when she arrives at Camp Spook, she wasn’t counting on all the drills and exercises. It is quickly apparent that she is not cut out for MI5’s spy academy. After only a couple of weeks, her supervisor calls her in and tells her he is pulling her from Camp Spook.

At first Maggie is crushed, but there is still some Hope to be had….MI5 is going to reassign her.

Maggie is thrilled, she finally has a chance to prove herself as an equal in a world dominated by men. Her time has come. Her big break. But then she finds out the assignment…..she is to pose as a governess to Princess Elizabeth but really she is to protect her and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. But Maggie is crushed to find out that to her, her new assignment is nothing more than being a glorified babysitter, even if it is to the future Queen of England.

While Maggie settles in at Windsor Castle, the bombs continue dropping on London. For the British people in WWII, a Nazi invasion is imminent. They are being bombed constantly from the air, across the Channel the Nazis occupy France, and U-Boats roam the North Seas…..and one U-Boat in-particular is raising more than a few eyebrows.

Not to mention, enemy spies are everywhere. Anyone could be a spy. Suspicions are high while every second of the day, British Intelligence works to break the Nazi codes so they can gain the advantage but to no avail.

Back at Windsor our favorite red head, Maggie, is busy trying to protect the Princess and it is glaringly apparent that there is more going on at the Castle than meets the eye. When a woman turns up dead and coded British missives are found in her possession…there can be only one answer….there is a spy in Windsor!

After reading the first Maggie Hope book, I was eagerly awaiting the next installment and thank you Random House for making that happen and providing an ARC! I absolutely adore Maggie Hope. She is spunky, innovative, and not winey. I love her. If you are a fan of Maisie Dobbs or Mary Russell you will love Maggie.

Having a spy novel set against the backdrop of WWII enhances the tone and mood of the book increasing and building the tension in all the right ways. The spies, U-Boats, espionage, and code breaking all add an exciting layer to the story. Throw in the bombings and imminent invasion and you have a nail biting mystery the reader can’t wait to solve! Very provocative.

Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the Upstairs/Downstairs aspect to this novel as well. I loved getting to know the Castle staff even if they are insignificant to the over all direction of the plot I love the Upstairs/Downstairs part of the novel to be sure!

Often after the success of a first novel, sometimes the quality and content of the second are wanting but that was not the case with this book. In some ways I liked it better than the first novel. In the first novel we spent a lot of time getting to know the principal characters and now that we are well acquainted with all of them, we can focus on the spy aspect and also watching Maggie’s character grow and change.

I am really enjoying the direction of all the characters, not a red hair out of place :). The story line of the next book also sounds promising and thrilling. I am really looking forward to seeing how things progress in the third book considering how this book ended :).

Another smashing tale of espionage, mystery, murder, love, and of course Hope….what more could a reader ask for?

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2) by Susan Elia MacNeal 

  • Paperback, 384 pages
  • Expected publication: October 16th 2012 by Bantam (first published August 28th 2012)
  • ISBN 0553593625 (ISBN13: 9780553593624)

This book counts toward: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2012

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 (an appealing new series with spunky female heroine)

Genre: Historic fiction, mystery, War fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: 

We might know something to be true, or we might want something to be true–need it to be true, but we may never be able to prove it. (332)

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