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Princess Elizabeth’s Spy
A Maggie Hope Mystery #2
Susan Elia MacNeal

Bantam Books
October 2012 / ISBN-10: 0553593625
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Cheryl Green

Sometimes you just know you are going to love a book before you read a single word. Princess Elizabeth’s Spy had me at the title. Imaging all kind of scenarios made me giddy. And the plot that Susan Elia MacNeal has picked for her second book is spot on.

Maggie Hope is training to be a spy – an actual MI5 agent. While she excels in all the mental areas, including cryptography, Maggie does not do so well in the physical aspects - the obstacle course in particular. So when she is given an assignment that will take her to Windsor Castle and not into war-torn Europe she is very disappointed. Maggie’s new assignment is to guard Princess Elizabeth, since she is next in line to the throne if something happens to her father, King George VI. Maggie is slightly placated since she is going in under cover as a math tutor.

When Lily, one of the ladies in waiting at Windsor Castle, is killed while riding with Princess Elizabeth, Maggie must ferret out the killer before Princess Elizabeth is hurt. She has figured out a link between Lily’s death and the death in Claridges Hotel of a Bletchley employee.

Things to ponder: Was Lily the real target of the decapitation, or was it by chance that she rode ahead of Princess Elizabeth? Who is behind the secret papers being sent to Germany?

My favorite part of the book is when the two princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, take Maggie through the castle to a room with a big trunk to see and hold the crown jewels, which have been moved there for the duration of the war.

Susan Elia MacNeal has written a wonderfully researched mystery that takes you right into 1940’s England. As an anglophile, I can appreciate the meticulous attention to detail she has put in the book. You get to find out what the people were wearing, what they were eating and how they coped during the frequent air raids. We still have upstairs-downstairs during the war, and it was fun to see how Maggie coped with all the servants. It was refreshing to get a different take on Queen Elizabeth as a young girl of 14. A lot of insight was provided, and I now understand a little more how she became the woman she is today. There are many twists and turns, and I didn’t have it solved until the very end. If you like your mysteries British style, then this book is for you. While the next book in the series, His Majesty’s Hope, won’t be out until spring 2013, I have the first book, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, on my kindle ready to read now. I also have it on good authority that Ms. MacNeal is hard at work on the fourth Maggie Hope Mystery.

Reviewer's Note: Other books in the series Mr Churchill’s Secretary #1, His Majesty’s Hope #3 will be out in spring 2013
Reviewed 2012