Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal (A Maggie Hope Mystery)

The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal 
(A Maggie Hope Mystery)
  • ISBN-10: 0399593829 - Hardcover $26
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 7, 2018), 320 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:

World War II is raging, and former spy Maggie Hope knows too much.

She knows what the British government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

She knows the real location of the planned invasion of France.

She knows who’s lying. She knows who the double-crossers are. She knows exactly who is sending agents to their deaths.

These are the reasons Maggie is isolated on a remote Scottish island, in a prison known as Killoch Castle, out of contact with friends and family.

Then one of her fellow inmates drops dead in the middle of his after-dinner drink—and he’s only the first. As victims fall one by one, Maggie will have to call upon all her wits and skills to escape—not just certain death . . . but certain murder.

For what’s the most important thing Maggie Hope knows?

She must survive.

It's important to read Susan Elia MacNeal's novels in order! Maggie Hope's story develops throughout WWII but begins with Mr. Churchill's Secretary.  Her own progress from secretary to secret agent is unexpected and unusual.  If you catch up with Maggie Hope at The Prisoner in the Castle, this 8th book in the series, you find her hidden and isolated in Western Scotland.  She's kept with other secret agents and denied communications, correspondence, the news and access to the outside world.  We only know that many of these agents are being kept away, possibly punished, and could be too dangerous to release.  There is the threat and risk of further prosecution or punishment, particularly as we learn more about Maggie's companions. 

When a young debutante/secret agent joins the group, there are sudden suspicious deaths on the island. Violent deaths, poisoning, etc.  it is clear that a murder is among them.  Maggie and her companions must find the killer and survive. 

Fortunately, Maggie has made loyal friends and two of them are determined to find out where she is being kept and help her return to London.  The question is whether they will find her in time and if she will be allowed her freedom.

The Prisoner in the Castle refers to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  It also shares the same situation - guests trapped and isolated find that they are slowly being picked off by a murderer.  The Prisoner in the Castle combines the suspense of Christie's classic with Maggie Hope's particular dilemma.  It's a satisfying addition to the series.

About the Author:
Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY, which is now in its 22nd printing. She is currently at work on THE PRISONER IN THE CASTLE, the eighth novel in the series.

Her books include: PRINCESS ELIZABETH'S SPY, HIS MAJESTY'S HOPE, THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT, MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE, THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE, and THE PARIS SPY. The Maggie Hope novels have been nominated for the Edgar, the Macavity, the ITW Thriller, the Barry, the Dilys, the Sue Federer Historical Fiction, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Fiction awards. The Maggie Hope series is sold world-wide in English, and has also been translated into Czech, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Turkish, and is also available in large print and audio. The actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Murder on the Orient Express) has bought the film and television rights to the series. 

Susan graduated from Nardin Academy in Buffalo New York, and also cum laude and with honors in English from Wellesley College. She cross-registered for courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University. Her first job was as the assistant to novelist John Irving in Vermont. She then worked as an editorial assistant at Random House, assistant editor at Viking Penguin, and associate editor and staff writer at Dance Magazine in New York City. As a freelance writer, she wrote two non-fiction books and for the publications of New York City Ballet.

Susan is married and lives with her husband, Noel MacNeal, a television performer, writer and director, and their son in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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