Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review: The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story and character development fans will appreciate
Cons: Will feel slow if you jump in here; Maggie takes a back seat at times
The Bottom Line:
Travel to the past
As characters move forward
Monumental day

Hope in Darkness

After reading the first three books of the Maggie Hope series in six months last year, I started the long wait until I could start The Prime Minister's Secret Agent.  Of course, if I’d been smart, I would have paced myself when I did start reading it, but instead I gobbled it up as quickly as I could.  It was that good.

If you are new to the series, Maggie is an American living in England during World War II.  She actually has dual citizenship, and as a result has found herself working with British Intelligence during the early years of the war.

And if you are new to the series, don’t start here.  Really, I can’t emphasize that enough.  This book has lots of character development that is very needed and series fans will love.  However, if you aren’t in the group, you will most likely be bored by these passages.  However, if you start from the beginning, you’ll be caught up before you know it.  Look how quickly I devoured the first three.

It is November of 1941, and Maggie Hope has been in Scotland for a few months now training future spies and dealing with the fallout from her mission to Berlin.  Among the students she is training to go on future missions, Maggie is known as Lady MacBeth because of her cold, exacting demeanor.  She doesn’t even refer to them by name, only by number.

As Maggie deals with the pressure of her depression, Japan and the US attempt to negotiate their way out of a standoff.  Prime Minister Churchill keeps trying to get President Roosevelt into the war because it is the only hope for England.  But when one of Maggie’s friends becomes endangered, will she be able to focus to help her?

With the book opening at the end of November 1941, any student of history knows what will happen next.  And a small part of my mind criticizes the book because Maggie wasn’t that involved in that part of the story.  After all, this is the Maggie Hope series, right, so she should not be taking a back seat.  However, that is a small part and the rest of me is yelling over the top of the critic.  As a reader, I was drawn in to the lead up to Pearl Harbor.  I knew what was coming, and yet I was still hoping there was some way to stop it, turning pages quickly hoping that someone will do something before it is too late.

And Maggie does get her own interesting story.  She starts in a very dark place, which is understandable if you’ve read book three.  Any other story for her but what happens here would not have rung true at all.  Obviously, Maggie is impacted by the results of Pearl Harbor, so it is a vital part of the book as well.

All the characters – real and fictional, previously seen and new here – are interesting and well developed.  They helped pull me into the story as much as the action itself.  While I’ve talked most about Maggie, several other series characters get some great development as well, which I enjoyed.

And make no mistake, there is plenty of action here.  As I’ve already hinted, I was turning pages quickly to find out what would happen next.  But that’s no surprise to fans of the series; it always happens.

What I love about these books is how it pulls me into the past.  I leave present day Southern California behind and am transported to 1941 England (and other areas).  As a result of these books, I have a better appreciation for what this war meant for people in their day to day lives.  That is excellent historical fiction.

So while I might have had a niggle or two with the book, they are truly minor issues.  The Prime Minister's Secret Agent will sweep you back to a monumental day in history.  Now comes the long wait for the next book.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Looking for Maggie's previous adventures?  You'll find them in the Maggie Hope Mysteries in order.


  1. This series sounds interesting. I may try it sometime.

    1. Knowing how similar our tastes are, I think you'd like it.

  2. I did add it to my every growing Amazon wish list.

  3. These sound delightful! Just the sort of thing that it might be fun to have on my phone while traveling in England.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Reading these in England would certainly add to the fun. I'm jealous at the very thought.