cover image The Hollywood Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery

The Hollywood Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery

Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-15692-6

Set in 1943, MacNeal’s meticulously researched if overstuffed 10th Maggie Hope mystery (after 2020’s The King’s Justice) takes Maggie, an American stationed in England who works for MI5, to Los Angeles, where Gloria Hutton, the fiancée of RAF pilot John Sterling, has been found dead in a hotel swimming pool. The police are quick to label the deceased a “hophead” and rule her death an accident, but Sterling refuses to believe their assessment and asks Maggie to investigate. Maggie’s inquiry, which takes her to film sets, nightclubs, and other Hollywood locales, eventually leads her to a charismatic L.A. cop who heads the local Ku Klux Klan and is plotting to blow up a theater during the premiere of an important war film. Appearances by such real-life notables as Linus Pauling and Walt Disney serve to highlight the widespread discrimination casually perpetrated against people of color, Jews, migrants, and LGBTQ communities. Amid all this social commentary, the search for Gloria’s killer tends to recede into the background. Still, fans of golden age Hollywood will find plenty to like. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary. (July)