Review: The Prisoner in the Castle (Maggie Hope Mystery #8) by Susan Elia MacNeal

I first discovered Maggie Hope back in 2012 when the first book came across my desk for review. The cover was initially what drew me in and I was never once sorry for judging a book by its cover!

Over the years, Maggie’s character has gone in a number of different directions and none of them were directions that I saw coming. For me, that’s one of the things that keeps this series exciting. You have this American typist how somehow ends up becoming a super high-level spy…..I love it!

Thought the series she has tracked down murders, saved the queen, broke codes, parachuted into France, and had her heart broken. This series always keeps me guessing and I absolutely love it! So what is to be in store for Maggie this time?

Maggie Hope is being held prisoner on a remote Scottish island with other SOE agents who know too much for the enemy’s comfort. All the spies on the island are trained to kill–and when they start dropping off one-by-one, Maggie needs to find the murderer… before she becomes the next victim (summary from Goodreads). 

I read this book in a matter of days. It was a fast paced, fun read. One of the things that I noticed right away was that I had read something like this before. A bunch of house guests trapped on a deserted island with a mass murderer picking them off one by one. It had the ring of an Agatha Christie novel mixed with some others that I have read in recent years. While that might be off putting to some readers, I still felt that this novel had loads of originality especially when it came to the other ‘prisoners’ or housemates.

Maggie and her housemates aren’t your typical run of the mill individuals. Each one of them is a highly trained killer. These characters don’t fit into the normal stereotypes for this kind of book which for me kept it moving and engaging. I had my suspect but then as the book went on, I wasn’t so sure. The only one I could successfully rule out was Maggie, the others all had means, motive, opportunity, and the ability. I kept guessing right up until the end. It wasn’t quite your typical ‘whodunnit’, I actually thought this story was more complex and developed than just another game of Clue.

One of the things I have struggled with internally with the Maggie series is does she need a romantic interest? I know that the author has recently asked some of her readers this very same question and I honestly don’t know how to answer that. In the beginning, her love life was front and center—which is befitting of many heroines in this era and time/situation. But as the story as evolved, Maggie’s love life has kind of taken a backseat but occasionally makes a reappearance. Do I think she needs a romantic interest—-no not necessarily but the war can’t go on forever and I think giving her the opportunity for a ‘normal’ life in the end would bookend nicely with the beginning of the series.

I would love to see her with a prince charming type. A man who will sweep her off her feet and love her in the way that she deserves—-though for me Maggie isn’t a damsel in distress who needs sweeping off her feet.

She’s clearly more independent and the war has changed her in so many ways. Having a HEA doesn’t seem quite possible for her, at least at this point. I think try hope is for a man who loves her, understands her, gives her shared life experiences and support. For me that’s DCI Durgin—-at least at this point in the series.

This book was much more about solving a mystery with the promise of a possible love interest in future books and I am totally ok with that. This book was also unique in that I felt it could have read as a standalone as well. Most of the other books in the series connect to one another, and while this one clearly builds on previous books, I think someone who hasn’t read the series could probably pick this up and be ok with where things are at in the series and not feel too lost. Though I highly recommend reading all the books because they are all great!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Prisoner in the Castle (Maggie Hope Mystery #8) by Susan Elia MacNeal 

  • Kindle Edition, 320 pages
  • Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Bantam
  • ASIN B077CQDZFC
  • Review copy provided by: publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5

Genre: Historic fiction, mystery, WWII, detective novel

Memorable lines/quotes: 

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