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Good Literature for Children & Adults

The Maggie Hope Mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope – Plucky World War II Spy

There used to be several mystery series labeled “cosies” to indicate that they are easy to read, simple novels more involved with the characters lives and less concerned with the details of the murder. These are books for readers who were looking for fairly mindless entertainment – what I call TV reading, they are stories that simply pass the time and make few demands of any kind on the reader.

Recently it seems that these books have been replaced with novels that are slightly more intelligent, the writing is a bit of a step up, and they often have some historical background, so there is a more substance to them, while still requiring little discipline from the reader. Perhaps just a slight step up on the literary ladder than the earlier “cosies”.

One of these new series is the The Maggie Hope Mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal. If you have been reading the Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline WInspear or the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd, I suspect you will enjoy this series as well.

I have just read a couple of the most recent in the Maggie Hope series. The heroine, Maggie Hope, began her career in the typing pool for Prime Minister Churchill but was quickly promoted when her skill at breaking codes was discovered. Maggie proved to be intelligent and brave – as well as beautiful, and she soon becomes a very accomplished agent for the British government.

His Majesty’s Hope begins with Maggie, barely recovered from her last adventure, being prepared to go into Germany in disguise. She is to become Margareta Hoffman in order to work with the underground resistance.  She is instructed by another spy, Kim Philby as the author mixes reality and fiction in the background to the story.

Maggie will find it a very challenging assignment, as she comes into contact with people who are part of her own troubled past and discovers some very nasty practices in the Nazi regime.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante finds American-born Maggie back in the United States. It is 1941, only a few days before Christmas as the novel begins with Winston Churchill’s visit to The United States to meet with President Roosevelt. It is just two weeks since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the British are desperate to convince the Americans to become involved in the war in Europe.

America, at this time, is a country still troubled by race relations and this plays a big part in the novel. Maggie’s personal life takes a bit of a turn as John, her long time love interest, takes a job with Disney studios working on cartoons purpose made to boost support for the war among the American public. As always the author provides us with a fascinating epilogue revealing who really inspired each of the characters in her novel. Often many characters who I assumed were entirely fiction have been made to closely resemble inspiring real life people.


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