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Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery [Kindle Edition]

Susan Elia Macneal
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (570 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.85
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Murder on the Champ de Mars
"[Cara Black] is on to a good thing: each of her novels is set in a colorful Parisian neighborhood—and there are a lot of them. The cumulative result of reading this addictive series is a sort of mini-tour of the city, as seen through a filter of fictional murder ... Leduc is always a reliable and charming guide to the city's lesser-known corners." —The Seattle Times

Book Description

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Books In This Series (4 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews


    Advance praise for Mr. Churchill's Secretary

    “This wonderful debut is intelligent, richly detailed, and filled with suspense.”—Stefanie Pintoff

    “A terrific read . . . Chock full of fascinating period details and real people including Winston Churchill, MacNeal’s fast-paced thriller gives a glimpse of the struggles, tensions, and dangers of life on the home front during World War II.”—Rhys Bowen, author of Royal Blood and winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards 
    “Think early Ken Follett, amp it up with a whipsmart young American not averse to red lipstick and vintage cocktails, season it with espionage during the London Blitz, and you’ve got a heart-pounding, atmospheric debut. I loved it.”—Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy
    “England in 1940 is the perfect backdrop for a courageous young woman who outwits the enemy. A vivid tapestry of wartime London.”—Carolyn Hart, author of Escape from Paris

    “An engrossing page-turner, with a delightful and spirited new heroine in the aptly named Maggie Hope.”—C. C. Benison, author of Twelve Drummers Drumming

    About the Author

    Susan Elia MacNeal is the Barry Award–winning and Edgar, Dilys, and Macavity Award–nominated author of the Maggie Hope mysteries, including Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, His Majesty’s Hope, and The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and child.

    Product Details

    • File Size: 1460 KB
    • Print Length: 386 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553593617
    • Publisher: Bantam (April 3, 2012)
    • Sold by: Random House LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B004J4X9HE
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,403 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    118 of 125 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging WWII Home-Front Thriller February 26, 2012
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    Maggie Hope, born in Britain but raised in the US by an aunt after the death of her parents, is astonished to learn that she is the heir of a grandmother she never knew. According to the terms of the will, she is required to go to Britain and settle the modest estate personally. So in the summer of 1939 she puts her plans for graduate school on hold and travels to London to sell her grandmother's house, despite her aunt's misgivings.

    The rackety old Victorian proves difficult to sell and expensive to maintain, so when a couple of her friends quit their jobs and lose the associated housing with the American Embassy after Britain enters the war, she offers to take them in. As London fills up with workers for the war effort, a few more friends take refuge with Maggie, who has determined to stay and support her country of birth. To make ends meet, she takes a job in the Prime Minister's office as a typist, although she thinks it a waste of her degree in mathematics and her language skills.

    Visiting the cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of her parents, killed in a traffic accident when she was very young, she is perplexed to find only her mother's grave. She queries her aunt, who confesses that her father had survived the accident, but went mad as a result, and has been permanently institutionalized. Maggie is determined to locate him.

    Through a number of characters the story offers a fair representation of the widely differing opinions of Britons about the war. The entwined threads of the missing father and the home-grown terrorism rachet up the suspense to a satisfying and hair-raising conclusion. But the real charm for me is watching the characters cope with rationing, bombing raids, clothing coupons, and all the other vicissitudes - from inconvenience to mortal danger - of wartime London.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Quick Read Mystery May 23, 2012
    This is not historical fiction but rather a mystery novel set in London 1940, at the end of the "false war" and the begining of the Blitz. The heroine, Maggie Hope, a London born American with a degree in maths, who is caught up in London when WWII starts in ernest. She's living in a seedy victorian house with several other girls who are trying to cope with rationing and air-raids, when she begins working at No 10 Downing Street as one of Churchills secretaries.
    She finds herself involved in code breaking, discovering plots and trying to track down her father whom she discovers didn't die in the car crash that killed her mother.
    It's an easy read, fast paced with a multi-stranded plot that includes MI5, the IRA, spies and Bletchley Park (the famous decoding center). It was spoiled for me in a few spots (I am a Brit and it was clear the author is not)with the odd phrase that a Brit wouldn't use (and definitely not in the England of 1940) and there were more than a few too many coincidences in the plot that did stretch belief.
    Lots of intrigue, some good research into Sadlers Wells and the conversations amongst the characters about differing political views. On the whole it was a pleasant, quick read but not something to stretch the grey cells too much.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Minefield: Spoiler Alert! March 8, 2012
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    I quite enjoyed this book, with its engaging main character, Maggie Hope, a British-born American who, while closing her deceased grandmother's house, is caught in London by the outbreak of World War II. With time, I think that the Maggie mysteries could develop into a very good series, indeed. The author's handling of the various strands of the plot is clever, although she sometimes tipped her hand in planting false clues that seemed a bit obvious, inviting readerly speculation prematurely. Some episodes, however, called for a severe suspension of disbelief, as when it doesn't seem to occur to Maggie, the bright young mathematician, that the simple morse she is decoding, which initially makes no sense, might actually be in the language of the main enemy that the world is fighting, Nazi Germany--especially when she later proves to be fluent in German.

    The 'meticulous research'--advertised in Bantam's blurbs--needs to be toned down and incorporated seamlessly into the narrative so that one barely notices it, because the history-mystery genre represents a minefield, in which one false step will cause the story to explode in the reader's face, which is what I felt happened about half-way through the book, when the narrative began to lose its credibility.

    Such 'explosions' occur when the author trips over anachronisms that betray that she is not really at home in the British world, at least historically. One such has been noted by another reviewer, who observed that women (i.e., 'Aunt Edith') were not awarded Cambridge degrees until 1947.
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    40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A winning start for a promising series February 26, 2012
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    Maggie was supposed to be at MIT earning a graduate degree in advanced mathematics, but instead finds herself in WWII London trying to sell the rundown but elegant house she inherited from a grandmother she had never known. Born in England to British parents, Maggie hadn't been back since she was a baby, which was when she left to live in America with her aunt after her parents were killed in a car accident. At first the blip in her academic plans felt like an annoying roadblock, but after living in and enjoying London for a year, and with the war now started, she decides to stay and do her part. And after all, even with rations, blackouts and air raids, life goes on and most of the time is anything but grim. There's dancing, theater, good friends, and great housemates, including Paige, her longtime friend from home, Sarah, a ballerina who gets them all tickets to her shows and Charlotte, known as Chuck, who has a boyfriend in the RAF. Plus there's the job Maggie has gotten as secretary to Winston Churchill. Of course Maggie, with her knowledge of mathematics, languages, and codes, is qualified for much more than typing and filing, but women are excluded from that kind of work and at least she is contributing to the cause from a front row seat.

    Author Susan Elia MacNeal is very good at crafting the right details to capture a scene and set a mood, and as Maggie's intellectual skills inevitably lead her to become more and more involved in secret and dangerous war work the pace of the novel accelerates until it is almost impossible to put down. It is mainly Maggie's story, but there are multiple points of view and in the early part of the novel it took a little vigilance to keep all the characters straight.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    3.0 out of 5 stars ... free book from library so suprises it was as good as suggested
    Got as a free book from library so suprises it was as good as suggested. The story moved quickly and kept my interest.
    Published 2 days ago by Nancy
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Published 4 days ago by MLCC, 11/12
    4.0 out of 5 stars Facts inside a story.
    I found myself looking up whether or not certain things were true or did happen. A lot of facts inside the story.
    Published 4 days ago by Thelma Gladstone
    2.0 out of 5 stars Anachronisms galore
    Baby bump, antibioticS in 1941 Germany, jet lag--just a few of the malapropisms in MacNeal's writing. To quote the author, "I'm just saying. Read more
    Published 7 days ago by themis l mollman
    1.0 out of 5 stars Please, for Pete's Sake...
    I was traveling and had a lot of time to kill and only this to read. I liked the idea of the book, so I really wanted to enjoy it. Read more
    Published 7 days ago by HopefulReader
    5.0 out of 5 stars Love finding the first book of a series which captures my interest.
    I listened to this on Audible at a British friend's recommendation. I like to listen to books as I knit. Well written, historically interesting, and keeps the attention. Read more
    Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
    4.0 out of 5 stars Mr Churchills Secretary
    Great book. I like incorporating WWII into the story, as well as the inner workings of Number 10 Downing Street. Read more
    Published 15 days ago by BABs
    4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and Engaging!
    This was a very interesting book. It gave a different perspective on living in London before the bombing began in WWII and showed that some people in England were opposed to... Read more
    Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
    4.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
    I am a World War history buff and enjoyed the historical elements of this book. The characters were good and nothing was a 'given'. Read more
    Published 17 days ago by Jane
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    I loved this and have found another new series to follow
    Published 18 days ago by emmjayt
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    More About the Author

    Susan Elia MacNeal
    New York, New York

    The Prime Minister's Secret Agent -- Top 10 New York Times bestseller and USA Today bestseller.

    His Majesty's Hope -- New York Times- and USA Today-bestseller. Nominated for the ITW Thriller Award and Bruce Alexander Memorial History Award, one of Audiofile's Best of 2013, and one of Crimespree's Favorites of 2013.

    Princess Elizabeth's Spy -- New York Times bestseller, Oprah's "Mystery of the Week." Nominated for the Sue Federer Historical Mystery Award.

    Mr. Churchill's Secretary -- Winner of the Barry Award. Nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, and Dilys Awards.

    Susan graduated cum laude from Wellesley College, with departmental honors in English Literature and credits from cross-registered classes at MIT. She attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University.

    Her first job was as an intern at Random House for then-publisher Harold Evans, before moving her way up the editorial ladder at Viking/Penguin and McGraw-Hill, then becoming an associate editor at Dance Magazine.

    Her writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Time Out New York, Time Out London, Publishers Weekly, Dance Magazine, and various publications of New York City Ballet. She's also the author of two non-fiction books and a professional editor.

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

    Follow on Twitter -- @susanmacneal

    Follow on Facebook --

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