His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope Mysteries Book 3)

His Majesty's Hope book coverThis series just gets better and better.  I noted that Mr. Churchill’s Secretary had a lot of preamble and I felt like we didn’t really get that far with Maggie, and that Princess Elizabeth’s Spy made some significant improvements.  I was really excited by the setup for this third installment at the end of Book 2, and I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.  Reader beware: If you like to read a series in order and want to avoid spoilers, stop here.

Maggie is finally getting a chance to enter enemy territory and do some real spying when she’s sent to Germany in His Majesty’s Hope.  What starts as a relatively simple mission quickly becomes more complex and more dangerous as Maggie tries to navigate the upper crust of Berlin society under Nazi Rule.  Her mother, back from the dead, is actually a high-ranking Nazi official, and was responsible for the attack on Princess Elizabeth’s life. Maggie’s mission is to bug her mother’s office, deliver some much-needed supplies to the underground resistance, but she doesn’t expect to come face-to-face with a half-sister and an old friend she was afraid had been killed.

This book was more complex in terms of plot and narrative structure than the previous two.  We jump between characters and settings much more frequently, and as a result get a much more complete view of the war.  As Germans are starting to understand more about what is actually happening in the Third Reich, resistance mounts, while staunch supports of Hitler’s regime dig their heels in.  Though the book is relatively short and light in places, it does take the time to point out dissenting opinions, and tries to present a realistic portrait of life at the time.

I was especially happy with the ending of this novel, considering that Maggie is left in a decidedly unhappy place.  It would be too easy to have each novel end on a positive note: Maggie Hope saves the day and Britain remains strong in the face of their enemies, and that sort of thing.  I like that Maggie is suffering, as bad as that might sound.  Too often, fictional characters are made to endure all sorts of trauma and then expected to just come out of it with a few battle scars, and a good laugh.  The events in the last quarter of this book really serve to give Maggie and the reader pause, and gives the story a weight that it didn’t necessarily have in the earlier books.

Of course, this leaves me eagerly anticipating the next installment.  GoodReads tells me that The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent should be published July 2014.

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