cover image The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent: A Maggie Hope Mystery

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent: A Maggie Hope Mystery

Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam, $15 ISBN 978-0-345-53674-7

Set in 1941, MacNeal’s fine fourth Maggie Hope mystery finds Maggie teaching at a training camp for spies in Scotland. Traumatized by her experiences in Berlin in 2013’s His Majesty’s Hope, she pushes the recruits hard, desperate for some peace of her own. Getting a close friend off a murder charge and helping to investigate the death of two ballet dancers bring her some respite. She also learns more about the war effort—and the difficulty of fighting a “clean” war—than she ever wanted to know. MacNeal focuses on the moral price of war, whose costs affect everyone from Maggie to Winston Churchill. She seamlessly mixes fact and fiction in the buildup to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The book’s weakest link is Maggie’s mother, the imprisoned German spy Clara Hess, who’s scheduled for execution. With the emergence of multiple personalities, Clara comes across as a plot device, not a character. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary. (July)