Nov 1, 2012

Book Review: Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal

Title: Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery
Author: Susan Elia Macneal
Paperback; Bantam, published October 16, 2012
Genre: historical mystery

About the book: Maggie Hope has been promoted to MI-5 as a secret agent/spy during WWII but because she fails the physical tests, she is assigned to watch and protect the young Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle,  under the guise of being her math teacher. The deaths of two young women, one of them a lady in waiting at Windsor Castle, become linked to a master plot that threatens the royal family.

Maggie and her father, a cryptographer working for the government at Bletchley Park, are also involved in cracking enemy codes and rooting out spies against the royal family and the English during the war.

Comments: I learned a lot about England during the war - the relentless bombing of London and other cities, their efforts to find planted spies, decode messages from Hitler's Germany, and block German plans to have King George VI replaced by his older brother Edward, who had abdicated to marry an American divorcee. Fascinating, heady stuff,  though I don't know how much of the details is based on fact and how much is fiction. I would have liked to see a more detailed disclaimer at the end of the book, though there is a list of books the author used for her research.

The plot is purely entertainment, outside of the historical facts. It has the Princess Elizabeth, a young, blue-eyed girl, taking part in an improbable plot of mystery and suspense. The author clearly admires how the British conducted themselves during WWII and has written about the present royal family's history and the princess in a somewhat sentimental way.

Princess Elizabeth's Spy ends with a question regarding Maggie's mother, which will lead this spy/sleuth into the heart of Berlin, in the follow up book. I am looking forward to it.

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of the Maggie Hope mystery series, including her debut novel, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, and the upcoming Hitler’s Nightingale. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
Visit her website at

For other reviews, visit the book's tour schedule. Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review ARC of this book.


Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed it, too. I'm loving this series. There is a sense of history, even when the author plays with the details. I couldn't put the book down!

Bellezza said...

I bought this book for my friend who's crazy about the Maisie Dobbs (is that right?) books. She loves historical fiction, and I thought this might be right up her alley. Now I'll have to refrain from reading it myself before wrapping it up for her... :)

Suko said...

Wonderful review! I need to read more mysteries!

Harvee said...

Bellezza, Suko: If you like WWII history, this is one for you.

Anna: I am looking forward to the 3rd in the series.

Jerly said...

I usually dont like to read series...but this seems to have an opportunity to connect with history.

Harvee said...

Jerly, I love your blog and your poem Who Am I? Thanks for visiting.

Trish said...

I love stories set in the first half of the 1900s! What an interesting time it was. I like the idea of learning some history along with my recreational reading. But, yes, some disclaimers or footnotes would be helpful too.

Anonymous said...

My Gram lived in Coventry, England during the Blitz so I love reading books like this - they give me an idea of what her life was like.

Thanks for being on the tour!

JoAnn said...

I've had my eye on this one. Judging from your review, I think I'd love it!

Harvee said...

JoAnne, Trish: Hope you get to read the series!

Heather: I saw the remains of Coventry Cathedral many years ago. It was quite an experience.

Staci said...

I'm hooked on this series and can not wait for book three!

Man of la Book said...

I liked this book more than the first ( and I agree with you, it certainly is an entertaining series.

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