Monday, December 02, 2013

Mini Bookish Thoughts: Spies, Murder & Secrets (with a Dash of Romance for Good Measure)

His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal 
(Bantam, 2013; 368 pgs)

Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series has fast become a favorite.  From the very first book, I knew I would not be able to resist the draw: a mystery set during World War II involving a female spy.  Mr. Churchill's Secretary introduced readers to Maggie Hope and we got to know her better in Princess Elizabeth's Spy.  In His Majesty's Hope, Maggie is assigned her first out of country mission, going right into the heart of Berlin during World War II.  The assignment is more than it appears, both Maggie's handlers and Maggie have their own agenda in addition to the main goal.  For Maggie, the job is very personal.

For a series that has a somewhat "light" feel to it, there is also a lot of depth to it.  The author takes on serious issues.  It's hard not to given the setting, Nazi Germany.  The harsh realities of the Holocaust cannot be denied, and while many of the characters are fictitious, there is truth woven in to make the story more authentic.

As always it was good to revisit Maggie and her friends, especially David.  His own struggles on the home front are all too a reality even today, unfortunately.  And while, yes, there is a bit of a love triangle, I like the way the author is handling it.   It's not a case of two boys fawning over the same girl.  It's much more complicated than that, and MacNeal captures the emotions behind and surrounding it in a very realistic way.

This is not a series I recommend reading out of order, although I suppose one could.  His Majesty's Hope is a must read for fans of the series, and one I think many other readers will enjoy as well.  I know I sure did!

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Susan Elia MacNeal and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


Darkness First by James Hayman
(Witness Impulse, 2013; 306 pgs)

Darkness First is the third in the McCabe and Savage series, featuring Maggie Savage and Michael McCabe.  When a good friend of Detective Savage's is found murdered with stolen drugs, along with the body of another woman, Maggie finds a way to get herself on the case. It becomes even more personal when evidence is found in her brother's home.

This was my first introduction to Maggie and McCabe.  Darkness First got off to a somewhat slow start, but it picked up speed and had quite a few tense moments.  I really grew to like Maggie and McCabe, although admit my amiable feelings toward them did falter at one point. I saw the ending coming a mile away, despite the red herrings thrown my way.  Still, I quite enjoyed the novel, especially the setting.  I have never been to Maine, and so can't attest for accuracy, but I really felt Hayman's descriptions added to the story.  This novel has a real sense of place that I liked.  Overall, I enjoyed Darkness First, and plan to read more by this author in the future.

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about James Hayman and his books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.


The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah
(Witness Impulse, 2013; 465 pgs)

I really enjoyed this mystery.  Mari Hannah is new to the American scene, but she's not a newly published author.  The Murder Wall is the first in her series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels. Given charge for the first time of her own murder investigation, Kate arrives on the scene to investigate the murder of a man, a man she happens to know.  She holds onto that little secret, however, and, as the story continues, the reader learns not only why, but what his connection to Kate is.  Meanwhile, Kate has come to the attention of a psychopath tied to a case she'd been on previously that remains unsolved.  With a boss who is breathing down her neck on the new case and telling her to forget the old one, plus carrying around her secrets, Kate begins to feel overwhelmed and wonder if she can maintain control of not only her work, but her personal life as well.

Kate is a complicated character from the get go, and the more I got to know her, the more I admired her strength and tenacity.  She's worked hard to get to where she is in her career, a woman in a man's world, and not without having to make sacrifices.  I didn't always agree with the decisions she made, but I could understand where she was coming from, and I always came out rooting for her.  I also felt for Kate's boss, who seemed to be between a rock and a hard place.  He wasn't my favorite person in the book, but he seemed like a good guy with too many pressures on him.

There is quite a bit going on in this book, from the investigation to the more personal.  I could feel the tension building and the characters' frustrations as the story progressed.  The Murder Wall was both entertaining and intense.  I definitely plan to read more by Mari Hannah in the future.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Mari Hannah and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

14 comments:

  1. I didn't know there's a new Maggie Hope book. I need to get that for my mom!

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    1. Kathy - This one almost slipped by me too. I really enjoy the series.

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  2. The idea of a female world war II spy intrigues me.

    Great reviews, thanks.

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    1. Tracy - It's definitely different! I enjoy the books. They are on the lighter side, although they sometimes do deal with heavy topics.

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  3. I really want to read Susan Elia MacNeal. She has been on my wish list for a while and just hasn't happened yet!

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    1. Kelly - I hope you get a chance to try her books. I really enjoy them.

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  4. Glad to see you enjoyed the latest Maggie Hope book. I have it but really need to make time for it. It's such a different kind of WWII series.

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    1. Anna - Yes, it is very different, which is nice.

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  5. I haven't heard of the other books or authors, but the Maggie Hope books are ones you've reminded me I wanted to read. Glad to hear it's good. I guess I better think about trying to catch up with whilst there aren't too many books out.

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    1. Charlie - Haha! I know what you mean. It can be daunting starting a series that already has a number of books out already.

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  6. The Murder Wall sounds great. I'm really interested because of the female Detective Chief Inspector who's intelligent and hard-working, it's a nice change since so often the DCIs etc. are men. I'm going to check out this book for sure. I'm so glad you liked it.
    The Maggie Hope series interests me, too, particularly because of the WW II setting and the inclusion of a female spy. I like the idea of a mystery/thriller that has a light side to it as well as a more complex, intense aspect. When it comes to this genre, I trust you implicitly so when I have the opportunity to read this series, I'll start from book one!
    Thank you for a great post and at least 2 intriguing books/series to "investigate" (ugh, that's bad!)

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    1. Amy - I really enjoyed The Murder Wall, and am looking forward to reading the author's next two books in the series. DCI Kate Daniels is such an interesting character.

      I just adore the Maggie Hope series (and part of that is because she and my daughter share part of a name, I confess).

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  7. I have Mr. Churchill's Secretary on my wish list because of you!

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    1. Stacy - I hope you like it when you read it. It's worth it!

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