Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope, born in England but raised in America, returns to her homeland to settle the estate of a grandmother she doesn't remember, where she must oversee the sale of her grandmother's house in order to fulfill the terms of the will. In the meantime, things are heating up all over Europe,  Hitler is cutting a wide and lethal swathe across the continent, and not enough folks are raising their voice in protest.

Determined to stay on in London, despite having to give up her PhD program in MIT's mathematics department, Maggie makes friends and takes in roommates to cover her cost of living while looking for work.  She reluctantly takes a position as a secretary at Number 10 Downing Street, knowing that her intellect could be better used as a codebreaker in the War Department rather than typing up the prime minister's memos.

There are two important people in Maggie's life who are not what they seem, and in a race against time, she must crack a German code hidden in plain sight and uncover their true selves before one of them is killed and the other one puts the entire city of London in peril.

I tremendously enjoyed this paperback original, which is the start of a new mystery series.  This book is fun and frothy, offering a little bit of everything: an evocative wartime setting, secret identities, gender politics, light romance, lots of gin drinking, a narrowly-avoided assassination, and a brilliant and saucy heroine.  Don't pick this one up if you're looking for something substantial, but if you like historical fiction or if you prefer you mysteries to be decidedly soft-boiled, give this book a spin.



Harvee Lau said...

I like fun and frothy, and I think I'll like reading this one.

Cheryl said...

I've heard great things about this book.