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Review of 'Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery' by Susan Elia MacNeal

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Date published: 11/25/2012

"PRINCESS Elizabeth's Spy" is Susan Elia MacNeal's second World War II-era mystery featuring the young, plucky heroine Maggie Hope, an American in London.

In the debut novel, Maggie, a mathematics whiz with a knack for code-breaking, uncovers a conspiracy plot while working as Prime Minister Winston Churchill's secretary in 1940.

In "Princess Elizabeth's Spy," Maggie has completed training as an MI-5 spy. The agency sends her on an undercover mission to Windsor Castle, where, acting as a math tutor, Maggie is tasked with protecting Princess Elizabeth.

The 14-year-old princess, portrayed as a smart, courageous and kind teenager, is indeed in danger.

Shortly after Maggie's arrival at the castle, a lady-in-waiting is murdered. Maggie discovers a decrypted German document and links the murder on castle grounds to the suspicious death of another woman at a London hotel. Maggie must connect all the dots before harm comes to the royal family.

The author's use of details in describing the city of London and the spectacular Windsor Castle brilliantly brings the setting to life in this fun, fast-paced read.

Those elaborate descriptions, the interesting cast of characters and the likability of Maggie and the princess should be enough for readers to overlook the seemingly inaccurate use of contemporary language, and the improbable situations that arise in the story.

Andi Russell is a page designer with The Free Lance-Star.


PRINCESS ELIZABETH'S SPY: A MAGGIE HOPE MYSTERY

By Susan Elia MacNeal

(Bantam Books, $15, 384 pp.)