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The Prime Minister's Secret Agent

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For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door. World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of wes For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door. World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow--including one of Maggie's dearest friends--Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it's the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war--and indelibly shape Maggie's fate.


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For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door. World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of wes For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door. World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow--including one of Maggie's dearest friends--Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it's the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war--and indelibly shape Maggie's fate.

30 review for The Prime Minister's Secret Agent

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal is a 2014 Bantam publication. Another thrilling adventure for Maggie Hope! I was a little hard on Maggie in the last chapter of this series, but upon further reflection, I think, in reality, Maggie’s character would have gone through some transformations considering all that had transpired, but I did miss the old Maggie, and hoped she would get her mojo back soon. This fourth installment finds Maggie coaching at the spy training camp in Scot The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal is a 2014 Bantam publication. Another thrilling adventure for Maggie Hope! I was a little hard on Maggie in the last chapter of this series, but upon further reflection, I think, in reality, Maggie’s character would have gone through some transformations considering all that had transpired, but I did miss the old Maggie, and hoped she would get her mojo back soon. This fourth installment finds Maggie coaching at the spy training camp in Scotland, giving herself a much needed reprieve and a chance to work through some of her heavier issues. But, of course, Maggie always manages to find herself involved in some manner of intrigue. In this case her old friend, Sarah, has fallen gravely ill, while two other ballerinas in her troupe have died from the same mysterious malady. Foul play is suspected, meaning Maggie must discover what is plaguing her friend before it's too late. Meanwhile, there are twists galore as Clara Hess awaits execution, amid rumblings of an attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. Whew! There is a lot going on in this story and I loved every minute of it!! This installment gives Maggie something, and someone, other than herself to focus on, so that gradually, she begins to regain her equilibrium. The mystery involving Sarah mysterious illness provided pulse pounding suspense, and the Clara Hess performance was absolutely riveting. I especially enjoyed the way a certain feline helped raise Maggie’s spirits and get her head back in the game. The author also explores some disturbing conspiracy theories that have been floating around for years concerning how much the US knew about an imminent attack on Pearl Harbor. Overall, I was very pleased with this chapter of the series and was relieved to see the old black dog gave Maggie a bit of peace and that her fighting spirit is back with a vengeance. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series! 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cameran

    2.5 out of 5 stars. Because it is impossible to go into The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent without high expectations after the way book three ended, I would like to advise readers to curb their enthusiasm. Book number four of this series had problems, and I think a great deal of the disappointment I received from it can be blamed on the way it was designed. After the trouble she faced in Berlin I had been eagerly anticipating my return to Maggie. I knew she was damaged after her experiences and cho 2.5 out of 5 stars. Because it is impossible to go into The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent without high expectations after the way book three ended, I would like to advise readers to curb their enthusiasm. Book number four of this series had problems, and I think a great deal of the disappointment I received from it can be blamed on the way it was designed. After the trouble she faced in Berlin I had been eagerly anticipating my return to Maggie. I knew she was damaged after her experiences and choices, and I was pleased with this character development because it meant that she had begun to realize that her rash actions held consequences not only for herself, but for those around her. So, to heal from her ordeal Maggie has gone to Scotland to be an instructor for agents-in-training; she is hard on her recruits and she is hard on herself. Eventually she is invited to see her friend, Sarah, perform a ballet in Edinburgh, where Sarah soon falls ill -- along with two other women of the ballet -- with mysterious symptoms. The mystery of the illness and who is responsible for the exposure seemed like something more suited for a novella than a full-length novel. To me, it came off as more a side adventure to give the main character something to do while the author focused upon other things. Which brings me to the largest problem I had with The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent: Maggie is on the peripheral vision of all the other action in the book. There was a storyline with her mother that was odd and that ended even stranger. And, most importantly, there was the storyline of the United States finally becoming involved in World War II. This “involvement” storyline, however, did not translate well; it was more of a history reenactment of the collapse of negotiations between the US and Japan, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. This heavy dose of history was interwoven throughout the book; unfortunately, it came off bland and cumbersome because Maggie had no position here. The final fifteen percent of the novel was where I began to finally enjoy myself, as it returned to what makes this series work. Maggie has once again become an active participant in the war effort along with Churchill, John, and David; the next book should give her something to do, so I will look forward to it while simultaneously hoping that the structure of this story will not be revisited. (I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is July 1, 2014.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    AH

    Initial Thoughts: What an interesting read - I really had difficulty putting the book down. This is the first time I've read anything by Susan Elia MacNeal and it certainly won't be my last. I loved the backdrop of WWII to the story of Maggie Hope, a spy and trainer in the SOE. Maggie is a capable agent, haunted by the events of the previous books (which I must find and read) and I loved reading about her. The Review: Funny, a few days after I read this book, I watched an episode of The Bletchley Initial Thoughts: What an interesting read - I really had difficulty putting the book down. This is the first time I've read anything by Susan Elia MacNeal and it certainly won't be my last. I loved the backdrop of WWII to the story of Maggie Hope, a spy and trainer in the SOE. Maggie is a capable agent, haunted by the events of the previous books (which I must find and read) and I loved reading about her. The Review: Funny, a few days after I read this book, I watched an episode of The Bletchley Circle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that series, it is the story of four women who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. Interestingly enough, there were some parallels with that episode and this book, especially on the topic of biological warfare. Disclosure - I haven't had the opportunity to read the earlier books in this series so I jumped into this book not knowing anything about Maggie's background. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to enjoy this book. I didn't feel like I missed much although I will definitely go back to the earlier books just because I enjoy this author's writing style. What caught my attention at first was the inclusion of Commander Ian Fleming discussing spycraft with another character at the beginning of the book. Yes, that Ian Fleming. The man that wrote the James Bone novels. And - get this- he drank a martini, shaken, not stirred. Awesome! I think I liked this book because I am a sucker for books about women during WWII. Any book which portrays the contribution of women to the war effort is a must read for me. I loved how the author set her story against the historical events leading up to the attacks on Pearl Harbor. But this is not only a historical book - there's also a whodunit murder mystery, too. Nicely done. As mentioned above, there are several story lines in this book. The story revolves around Maggie Hope who is in Arisaig, Scotland teaching field operatives. She's a tough teacher and rarely calls here students by name. I liked Maggie's character. She's tough, she's bright, and she perseveres. Maggie also has bouts of depression which she seems to hold off through most of the book. The secondary story also revolves around Maggie as she goes off to watch her friend Sarah perform at the ballet. When a ballerina dies, Sarah is accused of murder. Maggie investigates the murder with the tenacity of today's CSI agents. Yet another story line involves the impending attacks on Pearl Harbor and how message intercepts gave the exact dates of the attacks. I was fascinated by the work of the cryptographers who essentially decoded the messages by hand. Imagine doing that today. The Prime Minister's Secret Agent was an enthralling read. I literally read it in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait to go back to read the earlier books in the series. If you enjoy books about women during WWII, then this may be the book for you. Thank you to Edelweiss and Bantam Books for a review copy of this book. July 17, 2014 - The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is featured this month as our Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge Book: Adult on Badass Book Reviews. Check it out! This challenge is hosted by Lovin' Los Libros.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Whenever I get a new Maggie Hope book everything else in my life drops by the wayside while I turn my back on the world to read. The series is moving slowly through the WWII years, this is the fourth book and it’s just getting to Pearl Harbor, but that is no criticism because the details of the changing circumstances and moods of the time are fascinating, and the story plots within the books race along. With her determined personality and a knack for codes, languages, and mathematics Maggie has Whenever I get a new Maggie Hope book everything else in my life drops by the wayside while I turn my back on the world to read. The series is moving slowly through the WWII years, this is the fourth book and it’s just getting to Pearl Harbor, but that is no criticism because the details of the changing circumstances and moods of the time are fascinating, and the story plots within the books race along. With her determined personality and a knack for codes, languages, and mathematics Maggie has come a long way since the first book where she worked as one of Winston Churchill's secretaries, and she’s become one of my favorite characters. Her brains, perseverance, and good intentions coexist with human emotions, physical limitations, and flaws in judgment so she’s no superhero, which I find a lot more interesting. In the last book Maggie parachuted into Germany where she worked undercover as a spy, encountering her Nazi mother for the first time since she was a baby. The harrowing things she discovered and had to do mean Maggie is grappling with depression and what we would now label PTSD as this book opens, but overall The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent isn’t quite as unsettling as its predecessor. Maggie has been staying at a remote estate in Scotland training spies to undertake missions like her own, but when she’s forced to take some R & R in Edinburgh because her emotional state is interfering with her work, the trip is anything but restful. The friend Maggie went to visit gets caught in a deadly scheme, and to save her Maggie forces her way into an MI-5 operation that involves murder, ballet, and biological weapons. The books in this series always have several interconnected plot-lines, which this time around involve Maggie’s Nazi mother, who’s now a prisoner in the Tower of London awaiting execution, Winston Churchill, who’s hoping the Americans will finally join the war effort, and various Japanese and American officials, who are supposed to be trying to prevent war. Ian Fleming (debonair) and J. Edgar Hoover (cantankerous) have cameo appearances. This is a work of fiction of course, but I’ve learned a lot of history from the series because author Susan Elia MacNeal has thoroughly researched the era. She lists her sources in an appendix at the end of each book, and she always makes clear where her stories incorporate historical fact and where some artistic license is in use--something I greatly appreciate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This was the second novel set during WWII that I finished in as many days. This story focussed on three distinct plots: Maggie's recovery from her ordeal in Berlin and her subsequent investigation when her good friend and two of her colleagues fall mysteriously ill; the incarceration of Maggie's mother and the psychological examination that follows; and the disintegration of diplomatic relations between the US and Japan, with the result being that Japan eventually attacked Pearl Harbor. I found a This was the second novel set during WWII that I finished in as many days. This story focussed on three distinct plots: Maggie's recovery from her ordeal in Berlin and her subsequent investigation when her good friend and two of her colleagues fall mysteriously ill; the incarceration of Maggie's mother and the psychological examination that follows; and the disintegration of diplomatic relations between the US and Japan, with the result being that Japan eventually attacked Pearl Harbor. I found all three plots to be interesting. None of them intersected, but each tale developed independently and I found them all engaging. While MacNeal always relies on historical events as major parts of her narrative, I found that she did so even more for this book, particularly the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. Artistic license was employed, but the basic facts were true, an element of MacNeal's writing that I appreciate. An enjoyable read and one that aptly leads to the next book in the series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    I've yet to be disappointed with this series. Each time I pick up one of the books I'm compelled to finish as quickly as possible, and as with the previous books, there's no glorifying war or the spy trade here. Killing, or being responsible for deaths, is *hard* and the debates as to what is "necessary" can be endless. Even those with training or years of experience will suffer repercussions. But that doesn't make for a serious book, or one which is hard to read. On the contrary, these difficul I've yet to be disappointed with this series. Each time I pick up one of the books I'm compelled to finish as quickly as possible, and as with the previous books, there's no glorifying war or the spy trade here. Killing, or being responsible for deaths, is *hard* and the debates as to what is "necessary" can be endless. Even those with training or years of experience will suffer repercussions. But that doesn't make for a serious book, or one which is hard to read. On the contrary, these difficult topics are masterfully woven into the plot, inseparable from the characters themselves who are full of life, emotions, and great sayings. (Check out David's thoughts on Lord of the Rings and children!) I'm not an expert on WWII, but aside from a couple of minor errors (which I only noticed because I know Edinburgh) it certainly seems relatively accurate, making this an easy way to explore issues surrounding the war while enjoying some intrigue, personal conflicts and philosophical discussions. Oh yes, and characters you really care about, who can be emotional, wrong, weak, independent, or flawed, making them seem like people you actually know. It's hard to go wrong with a combination like this. Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    This is book 4 of Maggie Hope and I really enjoyed it. I love the way the series is rolling through WW 2 and all these different aspects of it: Bletchley Park, Pearl Harbor, London Blitz, the Royal Family, FDR, all these different players and pieces (and many more I'm not mentioning). My friend and I are sharing the series. We buy the paperbacks and then both read them. She's currently got book 5, so as soon as she's done then I'll start it. I look forward to seeing how the series progresses and This is book 4 of Maggie Hope and I really enjoyed it. I love the way the series is rolling through WW 2 and all these different aspects of it: Bletchley Park, Pearl Harbor, London Blitz, the Royal Family, FDR, all these different players and pieces (and many more I'm not mentioning). My friend and I are sharing the series. We buy the paperbacks and then both read them. She's currently got book 5, so as soon as she's done then I'll start it. I look forward to seeing how the series progresses and where it ends up!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    In this fourth entry in the Maggie Hope mystery series, we find cryptoanalyst Maggie at Arisaig House, in Scotland, working as a trainer for her fellow agents. She is suffering from what we now recognize as PTSD as a result of her time in Berlin (ref. "His Majesty's Hope," the previous novel). Her early-morning wanderings provide the first clue about what's happening around her when she sees a dead sheep covered in unusual blisters in the loch; not all is normal in the Highlands. In the mean whil In this fourth entry in the Maggie Hope mystery series, we find cryptoanalyst Maggie at Arisaig House, in Scotland, working as a trainer for her fellow agents. She is suffering from what we now recognize as PTSD as a result of her time in Berlin (ref. "His Majesty's Hope," the previous novel). Her early-morning wanderings provide the first clue about what's happening around her when she sees a dead sheep covered in unusual blisters in the loch; not all is normal in the Highlands. In the mean while, Maggie's mother, the Nazi spy Clara Hess, is being held in London pending execution ... and is showing signs of multiple personality disorder ... or is she? Not even her doctor can say for sure whether the professional actress is pretending or it's the real thing. And for the other major plot point, we have the Japanese planning their attack on Pearl Harbor, with glimpses into the diplomatic process and some speculation as to how it failed. The series is peopled with characters both fictional and non-fictional (then-SOE agent Ian Fleming, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, just to name two), and keeps the reader's attention. Whether it's a death at a performance of the Vic-Wells ballet (at which point Maggie's knowledge of the rather obscure science/tradition of floriography comes into play), or the blithe lifestyle of the commanders at Pearl Harbor, there is always something to keep the plot moving at a good pace as well. Author Susan Elia MacNeal has created a family of delightful characters to care about, and puts them in plots that keep us turning pages well into the night. I can't wait for the next one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Love Fool

    World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie par World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it’s the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war—and indelibly shape Maggie’s fate. This is my second Maggie Hope book (I know it's a series and not reading them in order but I have received them for free) and I have enjoyed them. I feel you don't need to read them in order but it def helps if you do. I love mysteries so it has that as well as romance as well as history. Recommend reading this if you love one or all three subjects.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is the fourth in a series. (I have not read the earlier books.) Maggie Hope is a secret agent for the British government and in this installment she has returned to British soil after extremely difficult assignments in Europe. She is damaged and hardly knows what to do with herself. Small bits of what happened are revealed, enough to allow entry into this episode, but so much is unsaid. This entry is a tantalizing mix of historical fiction and fact as Britain con The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is the fourth in a series. (I have not read the earlier books.) Maggie Hope is a secret agent for the British government and in this installment she has returned to British soil after extremely difficult assignments in Europe. She is damaged and hardly knows what to do with herself. Small bits of what happened are revealed, enough to allow entry into this episode, but so much is unsaid. This entry is a tantalizing mix of historical fiction and fact as Britain continues fighting Axis powers essentially on it's own in Europe. Meanwhile, in alternating sections, we follow the steps toward December 7th in Pearl Harbor, all the diplomatic maneuvering and guessing, etc with the Japanese and American military and diplomatic corps. And Maggie is fighting her personal demons at a school for new recruits in Scotland. This is really a good book, showing evidence of much research. Two caveats, however: firstly, it may be almost over-loaded with events and information; and secondly, I don't recommend that a casual reader such as myself enter the series in the middle. There is much explanation along the way, but so much background simply is in the earlier books. My rating would be 3.5* if permitted. There is much that is very good here, but start with the first book! A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Maggie Hope is back. After the terrible events of her last mission in Berlin, she's spending time as an instructor at a training facility in Scotland. She's suffering from depression and PTSD and is basically going through the motions. In the meantime, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack is approaching and the ramp up in the espionage efforts of everyone, British, American and Japanese is on full display. After the heavy action Maggie faced in the last book in this WWII spy series, I was ready fo Maggie Hope is back. After the terrible events of her last mission in Berlin, she's spending time as an instructor at a training facility in Scotland. She's suffering from depression and PTSD and is basically going through the motions. In the meantime, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack is approaching and the ramp up in the espionage efforts of everyone, British, American and Japanese is on full display. After the heavy action Maggie faced in the last book in this WWII spy series, I was ready for her to have a little bit of down time. But there's so much going on that has little direct impact on her, that she became almost beside the point. There are also chapters devoted to what is happening with Clara Hess, being held prisoner in the Tower of London. But very little of Maggie. She does solve a murder, but it happens within the space of a few chapters midway through the book. To all else she's fairly peripheral. The lack of Maggie aside, I read this in one sitting. I love the time period and the focus on life in Britain during the war and how it changed the people who experienced it. And it's always nice to catch up with MacNeal's cast of characters, including the irascible Winston Churchill. I just hope that Maggie Hope's next adventure will have a little more of Maggie.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    YAY! Our girl, Maggie, is back on track. I do see, now, why things evolved the way they did in the previous book and what brought our girl to this point. I also understand much better why she had to go through what she did. Patience, grasshopper. It all makes sense now. Onto the next book in this excellent series, "Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant." YAY! Our girl, Maggie, is back on track. I do see, now, why things evolved the way they did in the previous book and what brought our girl to this point. I also understand much better why she had to go through what she did. Patience, grasshopper. It all makes sense now. Onto the next book in this excellent series, "Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bibliothekerin

    My #1 disappointment with this book was its brevity. There is little plot development or character development; MacNeal flits from one locale to the next, offering only teasers. I hope she isn't heading down the path that so many authors are these days, cranking out shorter and shorter works, calling them "novellas" but which are, increasingly, short enough to be deemed short stories. This book is, in my opinion, just filler between Books #3 and #5, a huge disappointment after her last. I hope n My #1 disappointment with this book was its brevity. There is little plot development or character development; MacNeal flits from one locale to the next, offering only teasers. I hope she isn't heading down the path that so many authors are these days, cranking out shorter and shorter works, calling them "novellas" but which are, increasingly, short enough to be deemed short stories. This book is, in my opinion, just filler between Books #3 and #5, a huge disappointment after her last. I hope next time around MacNeal puts more time and effort into her writing. We see a few familiar faces in Book 3, but just in passing. We're told repeatedly that Maggie suffers from nightmares of her time in Germany, mainly about shooting the German boy and the death of the young theologian turned freedom fighter. Maggie is plagued with Churchill's "black dog" of depression. (He was actually not the first person to use this metaphor, btw; Martin Luther did, some 400 years earlier.) Maggie's depression is understandable, and today she'd probably be diagnosed with PTSD. If she weren't affected in some way, I'd have thrown the book out the window in disbelief. Frankly, I think Maggie's half-sister had a lot more to be depressed about, and showed more spirit and strength. Maggie was not the one living with a narcissistic, Nazi mother every day, living in a repressive society, and seeing death and suffering on a daily basis. I think she'd find Maggie's life a cakewalk in comparison. No, she has not had to shoot anyone (yet) as Maggie had, but she did something far more dangerous in my opinion: She sneaked onto a bus to see where it was taking the disabled children, and despite the horror of learning their fate, had the presence of mind to make it back without being caught, then persevere and get proof of the atrocity. But that was Book 2; back to Book 3. Maggie has her independence, her own flat in London, a satisfying career, friends in high places, is beautiful (or so we're reminded repeatedly), and has not one, but two men in love with her. Her only flaw was being unathletic. But being the Ubermensch that she is (her mother's daughter?), our heroine overcomes her weakness and becomes a veritable Amazon, able to run up and down mountains. (Next she'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.) If she is so smart, why don't we see more examples? There is the one odd discussion early in Chapter 1 of running vs. walking in the rain, but it feels so contrived that I can picture the author with a checklist, ticking off "obligatory example of Maggie's superior brain," in a hurry to get it out of the way so she doesn't have to think about it again for the rest of the book. It just makes Maggie look obnoxious. Maggie admits to being stalked by the same "black dog" of depression as Churchill. But if she were so depressed, wouldn't you think that she would have sought help before this? Or that Frain, or her father--someone--would have gotten her help? She is ordered to take a holiday only when her friend Sarah happens to visit Edinburgh and has mysteriously contracted anthrax. Not even one day off the farm (figuratively speaking), the change of scenery restores our heroine to her former intrepid self, and voila--she charges in once again to save the day. How fortunate that Maggie just happens to be in town! But she is clearly not 100% herself, because she fails to connect the dots between the symptoms of anthrax and the dead sheep she discovered the week before. Having gone to such a prestigious college, Maggie should be no stranger to science, so why don't the sores on the dead sheep raise a red flag in her mind sooner? The physical symptoms MacNeal ascribes to cutaneous anthrax aren't entirely correct, either. I thought that she was supposed to be so serious about her research? I was able to learn from a single Web search that cutaneous anthrax is the mildest form of anthrax, "seldom fatal with appropriate treatment." (Granted, "appropriate treatment" today means antibiotics, which were not widely available at the time.) But still: The primary symptom of cutaneous exposure is reportedly swollen lymph glands, yet none of the women exhibited this symptom. Don't you think at least one of the ballerinas, who perform with bared necks and shoulders, would have exhibited this symptom? Or that someone would have noticed the stricken girl's black sores _before_ she died? And speaking of the black sores... (grimace) The other symptom of cutaneous anthrax is supposed to be "a raised, itchy bump resembling an insect bite" (not one of these women felt itchy?) "that quickly develops into a painless sore with a black center" (per the Mayo Clinic website). This doesn't sound like the hideous, Bubonic Plague-like sores MacNeal describes. Artistic license? Maggie is close enough to observe the dead sheep not once, but twice, and the first time at close range. She has nary a scrape or sliver from scrambling across mountains of gorse on a daily basis, and magically eludes inhaling the deadly spores while downwind of the soldiers' windborn experiment. She blithely dumpster-dives in sheer stockings and pumps while her male colleague stands aside. Does she WANT to die? When she doesn't find the anthrax-containing bouquet in the trash, she just forgets about it, so we are supposed to as well, not giving the public's risk a 2nd thought. All I can say is, for such a smart chick, she can be incredibly stupid at times. As far as plot device goes, yes, it's interesting that the Brits were developing biochemical weapons then, but that should have come as no surprise to someone as knowledgeable as Maggie. The horrors of mustard gas were widely known; thousands were killed and maimed 2 decades earlier in WW1. MacNeal attempts to juggle 4 separate plotlines simultaneously and the result is a mediocre, unsatisfying mush. Interestingly, the more sympathetic characters are the individual Japanese: the reluctant admiral in Japan, Japan's weary ambassador in Washington, DC, and the young Japanese American in Scotland whose family in California was sent to an internment camp. So despite the book's brevity, MacNeal at least takes the time to give some of her characters more than comic book dimension. Her Churchill tells Maggie at one point that it would be wrong to confuse the Nazis with the German people in general. Amen to that. Yet MacNeal's Clara Hess borders on farcical, even more over-the-top than before. It wasn't enough that she suddenly reappeared from the grave in Book 2 and just happened to be a top Nazi official. She was also an opera singer, looked like Garbo, was rich, married to a famous orchestra conductor, and even had a 2nd, implausibly normal daughter. The addition in Book 3 of a supposed split personality, the 11th hour revelation that she and Frain were lovers, and the fact that he helps her escape at the end are too much. This is the guy who keeps telling Clara's doctor that she is duping him, first with her supposed catatonic state then a split personality. The doc was pretty stupid, you must admit, to give a notorious war criminal something to use to kill herself--or him. But of course, men are ever known to fall for a beautiful woman, and Clara is that, despite her increasingly 2-tone haircolor. (Meow.) For all of MacNeal's championing of women, why does she resort to stereotype and cast not just one, but two older women as villains? Not just Clara, but the over-the-hill wife as well, whose "dress gaps between buttons" (double-meow), who poisons her philandering husband's svelte young lover out of revenge. He gets off scot-free, of course, free to seek greener pastures, while the wife rots in prison. Men being men, they can't help themselves, right? Methinks the author protests not enough. Well, maybe MacNeal doesn't let men completely off the hook. She points out that Maggie's former fiance was a cad to criticize Mags for moving on after his reported death. Churchill used Maggie, too. The author lists the numerous mistakes made by American leaders that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor: Hoover ignored vital intelligence out of prejudice; officials in DC had grown soft and lazy; military leaders fought petty turf battles with other branches and ignored warnings from their staff. Unlike leaders in England who'd learned to utilize all the talent and brainpower they could, male or female, American leaders still condescendingly called women "Honey" and ordered them to fetch coffee. The matter of the international dateline snafu piqued my interest and I wonder why MacNeal didn't include that in her notes at the end? Surely I'm not the only reader curious to know if that was true. It certainly has the ring of truth, but it would have been nice to have confirmation. My favorite character has to be the cat "K" that utters "meh" instead of "meow." With a single syllable, he displays more personality than his owner. In the final analysis, "meh" pretty well sums up how I felt about this book, too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen ⊰✿

    Another good addition to the series. There wasn't a whole lot of action, this was more one of those series books that is necessary to start to bring plot lines together and set up the next books, but it was still enjoyable. I did especially enjoy the take on historical events surrounding Pearl Harbour which chose to explore some conspiracy theories (such as Churchill being aware of the impending attack but not telling the Americans as he needed them in the war). Another good addition to the series. There wasn't a whole lot of action, this was more one of those series books that is necessary to start to bring plot lines together and set up the next books, but it was still enjoyable. I did especially enjoy the take on historical events surrounding Pearl Harbour which chose to explore some conspiracy theories (such as Churchill being aware of the impending attack but not telling the Americans as he needed them in the war).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Mandeville

    4.5 stars... It had a few slow parts, but I loved how they treated Maggie's PTSD. It's sad how that generation, encouraged 'keep your problems to yourself'. I often think of some of the older women I use to work for that told me they married, their beau before he went off to war, but the person that came back was not their spouse. I like how she grappled with the 'survivor syndrome'. It was a good, very interesting read! 4.5 stars... It had a few slow parts, but I loved how they treated Maggie's PTSD. It's sad how that generation, encouraged 'keep your problems to yourself'. I often think of some of the older women I use to work for that told me they married, their beau before he went off to war, but the person that came back was not their spouse. I like how she grappled with the 'survivor syndrome'. It was a good, very interesting read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Maggie Hope continues to be one of my favorite literary characters and I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the series. I do think this would be better classified as a thriller/suspense type of book as the mystery piece of the novel usually isn't the sole aspect of the novel. While events transpired in London, the backdrop of this novel had to do with the events leading up to and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Susan Elia MacNeal does a great job of creating an enjoyable, somewhat lighter read t Maggie Hope continues to be one of my favorite literary characters and I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the series. I do think this would be better classified as a thriller/suspense type of book as the mystery piece of the novel usually isn't the sole aspect of the novel. While events transpired in London, the backdrop of this novel had to do with the events leading up to and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Susan Elia MacNeal does a great job of creating an enjoyable, somewhat lighter read than other WWII novels, while still peppering the novel with historical facts that allow the reader to learn something. One of my favorite series and I continue to recommend it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    It has been so long since I read the first three books in this series that it was helpful the author recaps the highlights that occurred in Maggie Hope's career as an agent for England during WWII. Maggie is an American but moves to England and receives her aunts home and decides to stay because the war has begun. This book seemed to move slower for me, though there were parts that kept my interest. It's not a bad series, but doesn't begin to measure up to jacquline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs serie It has been so long since I read the first three books in this series that it was helpful the author recaps the highlights that occurred in Maggie Hope's career as an agent for England during WWII. Maggie is an American but moves to England and receives her aunts home and decides to stay because the war has begun. This book seemed to move slower for me, though there were parts that kept my interest. It's not a bad series, but doesn't begin to measure up to jacquline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christina Bauer

    I've been honored to receive draft copies of Susan's books, and The Prime Minster's Secret Agent will be a stellar addition to the Maggie Hope series! WOW this is the most pulse-pounding installment yet, complete with swoon-worthy romance and all-over awesomeness! Release date set for July 1st... I've been honored to receive draft copies of Susan's books, and The Prime Minster's Secret Agent will be a stellar addition to the Maggie Hope series! WOW this is the most pulse-pounding installment yet, complete with swoon-worthy romance and all-over awesomeness! Release date set for July 1st...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mahoghani 23

    Maggie Hope is miserable. She's still in shock from her last escapade in Berlin where she found her first love, found out that she has a half-sister and came face-to-face with the woman who gave birth to her, Clara Hess. She's no good to her employer and seeks to kill herself when something happens to one of her closest friends and she's determined to save her life. At the same time, the Japanese has bombed Pearl Harbor. The author chooses to write about war fiction with the expertise of someone Maggie Hope is miserable. She's still in shock from her last escapade in Berlin where she found her first love, found out that she has a half-sister and came face-to-face with the woman who gave birth to her, Clara Hess. She's no good to her employer and seeks to kill herself when something happens to one of her closest friends and she's determined to save her life. At the same time, the Japanese has bombed Pearl Harbor. The author chooses to write about war fiction with the expertise of someone that experienced that era (even though we know she wasn't there). She has performed her research and intrigues the reader with what occurred during this period of unrest between the countries of Japan, Russia, Germany and the United States. Her characters are inspiring yet willing to risk their lives for their country and believe in what they are doing. As each book progresses, the heroine, Maggie Hope matures and becomes more capable of handling situations that come her way.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    Notes: Low end of 3 Stars - Narration by SD does not fit an American raised Brit or other accents. - The "reasoning" for Maggie's mother's situation. Badly done. - Churchill blowing bubbles in the bathtub. I'm sure it was suppose to be a tongue in cheek moment in a serious mini-scene but that's just another example how Churchill comes across as a dumb/unintelligent person in this series. Notes: Low end of 3 Stars - Narration by SD does not fit an American raised Brit or other accents. - The "reasoning" for Maggie's mother's situation. Badly done. - Churchill blowing bubbles in the bathtub. I'm sure it was suppose to be a tongue in cheek moment in a serious mini-scene but that's just another example how Churchill comes across as a dumb/unintelligent person in this series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    MasterGamgee

    I am putting this book aside, perhaps for now. There have been many books I've read between this one and the previous in the series so I don't remember what was going on with Maggie. For the start of this book she is depressed and pretty unpleasant. While I'd like to give this book a fair shake I'm just not interested in reading more of this now. Maybe later I'll take it out from the library again. I am putting this book aside, perhaps for now. There have been many books I've read between this one and the previous in the series so I don't remember what was going on with Maggie. For the start of this book she is depressed and pretty unpleasant. While I'd like to give this book a fair shake I'm just not interested in reading more of this now. Maybe later I'll take it out from the library again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I haven't read the previous books in this series and this book doesn't work all that well as a stand-alone. I was kind of frustrated by it. It seems more like a coda to the previous book; too much time is spent resolving previous matters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the historical setting and some of the characters. The author is good at conveying the sense of living in a time of desperation, when no one knew how things were going to turn out. I liked the set-up with Maggie teaching at the spy school I haven't read the previous books in this series and this book doesn't work all that well as a stand-alone. I was kind of frustrated by it. It seems more like a coda to the previous book; too much time is spent resolving previous matters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the historical setting and some of the characters. The author is good at conveying the sense of living in a time of desperation, when no one knew how things were going to turn out. I liked the set-up with Maggie teaching at the spy school in remote Scotland. She's a compelling character and clearly a lot of research went into this. But there are too many plot strands and they don't cohere. Worst of all, the mystery gets short shrift in the midst of the lead up to Pearl Harbor, Maggie's crazy German spy mother, Maggie's depression, adopting a cat, Churchill fomenting, etc., etc. It was frustrating how little of the book is devoted to the actual mystery, not to mention the obviousness of the cause of death, if not who did it. I think the author needs to pare down the number of plot elements and dig deeper into the mystery. This book would've been improved if it had just been about Maggie teaching at the school, dealing with her depression and coming out of it by solving the mystery. Instead we get a mish mash of a million other plots in a bunch of different locations unconnected to Maggie, just to tie it into Pearl Harbor and the US coming into the war, with the stupid Clara Hess character tacked on for...well, I have no idea why (see below). Also she keeps introducing characters and then dropping them. There are repeatedly scenes where a new character is the main actor but we never see them again after that scene (for example, the scene where the double agent tries to give info to Hoover; the actor who's training at the spy school). You think something more is going to happen with them and it doesn't. There was something about Maggie's depression that wasn't convincing. I don't know why. It seemed kind of superficial, or maybe it just didn't seem to fit the character, who seems very no-nonsense in the next book. Maybe the author needed to dig a little more deeply into Maggie's feelings. Just using the shorthand "the Black Dog" didn't seem adequate. As in the book that comes after this one, the story revolving around Maggie's mother, Clara Hess, is the worst part. Clara belongs in another book. She's ridiculous and over-the-top. If you watched the recent FX show, Feud: Bette and Joan, I think Clara would fit in well in an early 60's horror melodrama. As Jack Warner from that show might say, hagsploitation anyone? If I read any more of these, I think I'm going to visualize her as Bette Davis played by Susan Sarandon. I hate her character. She's ridiculous. Get rid of her. Instead, the author implausibly has her escape every situation. Also there's no connection to Maggie at all. Why is her mother even in these books? I'm not going to jump to read another book in this series, although I wouldn't mind reading the first one to see how this all gets started. Eventually. No time soon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Kincheloe

    This was my first Maggie Hope mystery, and, oh my stars! I can't wait to read the next one. Maggie is a believable, tough, capable spy. Well done Susan Elia MacNeal! This was my first Maggie Hope mystery, and, oh my stars! I can't wait to read the next one. Maggie is a believable, tough, capable spy. Well done Susan Elia MacNeal!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Smith

    How do I love Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series? Let me count the ways. 1) The quality of the writing is top-notch. Not just the prose, which is intelligent and interesting and smooth like a deliciously aged, perfected glass of wine, but also the plotting which is intricate and grounded in logic and possibility and there are never any of those last minute surprise solutions which come from nowhere to neatly tie up a complicated plot. 2) The characters! I love how the people in this series, M How do I love Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series? Let me count the ways. 1) The quality of the writing is top-notch. Not just the prose, which is intelligent and interesting and smooth like a deliciously aged, perfected glass of wine, but also the plotting which is intricate and grounded in logic and possibility and there are never any of those last minute surprise solutions which come from nowhere to neatly tie up a complicated plot. 2) The characters! I love how the people in this series, Maggie especially, grow and change and evolve, just as people do in real life. And, as they do, so do their relationships. Susan Elia MacNeal's writing is so in the moment and spot-on about human nature that one can't help but start to think of these characters as friends, and as with friends, one finds one's self SHOUTING advice at them, tsking, worrying, weeping, involved in their lives. 3) The historical details are riveting. I have never been a history person, but Susan Elia MacNeal effortlessly weaves fascinating details and atmosphere into these stories, some of which have led me to do further research and reading on my own to learn more. 4) The world. Susan Elia MacNeal has managed to make each episode a stand alone while also connecting the series into a reality of people and connections and mysteries enriched by reading the series in order. This is the fourth in the series of which I currently own all seven but am rationing because I don't want to run out of Maggie. 5) Relevance. Maggie Hope is living in a world and time where hate and horrors committed by those in power are endangering the entire human race. Some stand up to the disease of moral turpitude, while others cower or surrender to what seems expedience, staying silent and inactive in the face of amoral, criminal, repugnant, and unforgivable behavior by those in power. Maggie does not. Despite the personal cost and sorrow, the danger and the despair, she does not compromise her morals nor surrender to evil. She can teach us all a lesson now in this age of a United States being run by an election stealing fascist and his enabling party of hypocrites and bigots. And so, there are a few of the reasons I return to Maggie, and Susan Elia MacNeal's wonderful series, when I am in need of a visit with a friend and an injection of hope and belief in my life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wendi (BrokenBinding)

    I would have loved to give The Prime Minister's Secret Agent 4 stars, or even 3.5, but I can't. The biggest fault in the story doesn't lie in the plot, the writing, the world building but in the formatting. Usually I would be able to overlook such a thing and enjoy the story for itself...errors are negligible when the story shines brightly enough to overcome them. Unfortunately this is not the case here. Viewpoints, locations, and story arcs are changed frequently in this story, and while I woul I would have loved to give The Prime Minister's Secret Agent 4 stars, or even 3.5, but I can't. The biggest fault in the story doesn't lie in the plot, the writing, the world building but in the formatting. Usually I would be able to overlook such a thing and enjoy the story for itself...errors are negligible when the story shines brightly enough to overcome them. Unfortunately this is not the case here. Viewpoints, locations, and story arcs are changed frequently in this story, and while I would not expect a chapter change between each change of view, the fact that there is absolutely no break between sections of the chapter was extremely distracting to read. Even additional spacing would have made a transition that allowed the story to flow. With no break between a paragraph in Great Britain and one in the U. S. or Japan, it could take a few paragraphs to pick up on the scene change. I continually found myself needing to go back and reread...there was no other way to recapture the thread of the story. It was persistently annoying enough that it merits a lower rating. I was irritated enough to be unsure just how I would rate the story with out that distraction, so I am erring on the side of kindness because I truly enjoyed the previous books and am willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    From Scotland to London to Washington to Pearl Harbor - the world is on the brink of America's entrance into WWII. While MacNeal is known for her exacting research, she is the first to say that the conversations and characters are fictional. However, as my family moved to Oahu less than ten years after Pearl was bombed, I can say that much of her storyline is based in fact. I grew up seeing the oil which leaked to the surface above the USS Arizona - long before a memorial was built there. And PM From Scotland to London to Washington to Pearl Harbor - the world is on the brink of America's entrance into WWII. While MacNeal is known for her exacting research, she is the first to say that the conversations and characters are fictional. However, as my family moved to Oahu less than ten years after Pearl was bombed, I can say that much of her storyline is based in fact. I grew up seeing the oil which leaked to the surface above the USS Arizona - long before a memorial was built there. And PM Churchhill had already allowed a large town of civilians to be firebombed by Germany to protect the fact that England had broken their codes. (In the book, he does not mention the name of the town, but it was Coventry.) Per usual, Ms. MacNeal's writing is compelling and heart wrenching. Any reader who has studied history knows where the tale is going, but that does not keep you from wanting to enjoy the journey.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This series is AMAZING! It follows a female British spy through some difficult scenarios through out the series. This books picks up months after a mission in Berlin that has Maggie trying to figure out who she is and wishing she could forget or undo what happened. She is an instructor in Scotland and her friend comes in contact with antrax. Maggie is there to help work the case and heal internally and mentally.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Manytravels

    The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is the 4th in a series of books. It does stand alone but on wobbly feet. Clearly, the books of the series which preceded it would have made this one more lucid--the references to them permeated this one--and this book itself seemed only to be a gateway to the next book of the series. The primary characters of the series served only minor roles in this particular volume. The central character, Maggie Hope, serves as a secret agent to England during WW II; her moth The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is the 4th in a series of books. It does stand alone but on wobbly feet. Clearly, the books of the series which preceded it would have made this one more lucid--the references to them permeated this one--and this book itself seemed only to be a gateway to the next book of the series. The primary characters of the series served only minor roles in this particular volume. The central character, Maggie Hope, serves as a secret agent to England during WW II; her mother was a spy-master for the Nazis and is in a British prison facing execution. While this bit of plotting goes on, it is clearly more important to the next volume in the series than it was to this one. In fact, a great portion of this book focuses on the intrigue that surrounded decoding messages in both the UK and the US just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. This intrigue traces some actual historical events and what we have come to understand happened in the background leading up to the attack of December 7. It is fascinating history and has nothing to do with the Maggie Hope character. Books in a series can be very interesting when they are able to stand alone yet still contribute to the series and I occasionally do follow a series of that type. In this case, this book did not interest me enough to even tempt me to read others in the series.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Kirschner

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4 This book started out quite strong. After creating a character who seemed quite flighty and too go lucky and happy throughout the first two books in this series, we see a change. Maggie goes through some rather horrendous things during her stint as a spy and as a result at the beginning of this book, she is struggling deeply. She is deep in a fog of depression and pain. Her pain and inability to deal with it was dealt with heartbreakingly well. And then the book starts t 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 This book started out quite strong. After creating a character who seemed quite flighty and too go lucky and happy throughout the first two books in this series, we see a change. Maggie goes through some rather horrendous things during her stint as a spy and as a result at the beginning of this book, she is struggling deeply. She is deep in a fog of depression and pain. Her pain and inability to deal with it was dealt with heartbreakingly well. And then the book starts to falter a wee bit. A mystery/chase takes up about 1/3 of the book and ends with A LOT of book still left. The book feels like it is grasping at strings at times. It jumps in and out of the lead up to pearl harbour, but really it seems like too many ideas and not enough unity between them. Also the lead up to pearl harbour was told in a fair amount of detail, but the actual event of pearl harbour was not touched on really at all (just the outcome of pearl harbour - America going to war). So it was quite good at times and then mediocre at others.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This was no doubt the best of the Maggie Hope series so far. Maggie is taking a break from her usual assignments and is teaching at a spy training school in Scotland. The time is designed to allow Maggie time to recuperate from her last assignment and recharge. But on a weekend trip to Glasgow she gets involved in the investigation of the sudden death of a ballerina followed by two others associated with the ballet company who fall ill. Throughout the book there is a second plot brewing, the lea This was no doubt the best of the Maggie Hope series so far. Maggie is taking a break from her usual assignments and is teaching at a spy training school in Scotland. The time is designed to allow Maggie time to recuperate from her last assignment and recharge. But on a weekend trip to Glasgow she gets involved in the investigation of the sudden death of a ballerina followed by two others associated with the ballet company who fall ill. Throughout the book there is a second plot brewing, the lead up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I found the fictionalized account of Pearl Harbor to be especially interesting. It intrigued me so much that I reached for a history book to see how it really happened. There's a lot of fiction written about WWII, but this book provided a perspective I had not read before.

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