PRINCESS ELIZABETH’S SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal
Some historical novels/mysteries are very loosely based in the period in which they are set. Others are very true to the period. PRINCESS ELIZABETH’S SPY is in the latter category.
Maggie Hope was previously a secretary to Winston Churchill (MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY). She is recruited by British Intelligence and after failing the training to be dropped on the continent, is assigned to be a maths tutor for fourteen year old Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. A lady in waiting dies and Maggie investigates and gets drawn into a complicated scheme involving German secret codes, Nazi spies, members of the household staff who aren’t who they appear and ending on board a U-2 submarine.
MacNeal uses her extensive research into life at the castle to write about daily life and the austerity of wartime in fascinating detail. The setting, especially the sense of the period, is the strong point of the book. The mystery is complicated and well developed, but sometimes a bit unbelievable. However, the details of the period and ways that Maggie figures out what is going on and what she must do next make compelling reading.
There are frequent references to events in the first book, especially Maggie’s almost fiancee, which will make the reader want to read the first book, and the third book (HIS MAJESTY’S HOPE, due out in May 2013) more or less begins in the ending of this one, so the books in the series are tightly tied together. Readers who like historical mysteries will want to read all three.
Susan Elia MacNeal's website is www.susaneliamacneal.com
Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal. Random House. 2012. ISBN 9780553593624 (paperback), 384p.