cover image The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery

The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery

Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-59382-6

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None provides the setup for MacNeal’s evocative if unconvincing eighth Maggie Hope mystery (after 2017’s The Paris Spy). Toward the end of 1942, British special agent Maggie is ensconced at Killoch Castle, a onetime Victorian hunting lodge on the tiny Hebridean island of Scarra. Ostensibly a training center, the top-secret British facility there actually sequesters agents with dangerous weaknesses or knowledge too sensitive to leave in the field—in Maggie’s case, detailed information on the upcoming invasion of occupied Europe. Life is pleasant enough, until the nine other agents on Scarra begin being murdered by means from arsenic and cyanide to impalement by harpoon. As a storm cuts off all possibility of help from the mainland, Maggie attempts to discover which of her fellow “guests” is a killer. MacNeal’s scenario lacks the rigorous plotting of its classic predecessor, and the slew of disparate murders feels more silly than chilling. [em]Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary. (Aug.) [/em]