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His Majesty's Hope: A Maggie Hope Mystery (Maggie Hope Mysteries) Paperback – 20 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Div of Random House, Inc (20 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345536738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345536730
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 874,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Young Maggie Hope is fresh from her training as an agent for the Special Operations Executive and her mission is to be parachuted behind enemy lines to Germany, where she is to drop off some radio equipment for underground resistance forces and bug the offices of German spy Clara Hess. It's supposed to be a quick, four-day mission, but when Maggie is offered a job by a top Nazi, she can't resist staying so that she can possibly find out useful German war intelligence.

Meanwhile, there are side plots involving Clara Hess's daughter Elise, a nurse, who finds out about the Nazis' secret program to euthanize those with mental and developmental disorders, Elise's friend Frieda, who is married to a Jewish doctor about to be sent "to the east" and, back in London, Maggie's friend David's seemingly doomed gay love affair.

Maggie's spying brings her into contact with Elise and their plots mesh, culminating in a tension-filled attempt to escape Germany.

It's hard to know what to think of this story. MacNeal's strengths are that she writes well and knows how to keep a plot moving along at a good pace. But it doesn't move along fast enough to disguise the weaknesses, such as one-dimensional characters, and an absolutely ludicrous plot that reminded me very much of that pot-boiler movie from 1992, Shining Through, in which Melanie Griffith plays a spy in World War II Berlin and has some experiences remarkably like Maggie's.

I have to admit that I had fun reading the book at least half the time.
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Format: Paperback
Maggie Hope has successfully completely her spy training this time, and is ready to go behind enemy lines. Her mission in Germany is two fold. First, she is supposed to deliver radio tubes to the resistance. Then, she must plant a bug in the study of Clara Hess, a high ranking Nazi who just happens to be the mother that Maggie thought was dead.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Clara's other daughter Elise is about to make some horrible discoveries of her own concerning the kids she works with as a nurse at the hospital. Elise's friend's husband is a Jew, and the friend lives in constant fear that he will be summoned to go to a work camp. And there's the mysterious patient in the hospital that doesn't speak at all. How will all this come together?

Actually, if you are familiar with the first two book in the series, you can already see these plots intersecting. But watching this unfold is interesting and absorbing like always. The characters, old and new, are strong. And the book absolutely transports you back to Berlin in 1941.

That certainly makes this book a little darker than the previous two, but I still enjoyed every page and found the places the characters wound up believable.

Unfortunately, this book still has the timeline flaws of the others, and one sub-plot involving a friend of Maggie's back in England felt out of place in the story.

But on the whole, I enjoyed this book. It left me anxious to find out what happens to Maggie next.
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By J. Rebic on 22 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the book, although I found it a bit naive and not as interesting as her other two Maggie Hope novels.
However, McNeal researches her topics well and is definitely a force to be counted on in the future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 267 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Excellent continuation of this WWII spy series. I forgive it its weaknesses. 30 Mar. 2013
By Esther Schindler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Susan Elia MacNeal introduced us to Maggie Hope in Mr. Churchill's Secretary, and I for one was captivated from the start. How could I NOT be? The heroine is an independent young woman, a brilliant mathematician, living through a dramatic time, and putting herself in harm's way for plausible reasons. As was evident from Princess Elizabeth's Spy, the character has her own arc, coming to terms with her family's history, and the author does not always give her easy choices. So the moment I saw the imminent release of His Majesty's Hope, I practically shouted, "That's for me!" Loud enough to disturb the cat, and to earn one of those grumbly, "You woke me up" cat glares.

In His Majesty's Hope, Maggie has finally earned the right (and the skill) to be dropped behind enemy lines, the first woman spy to do so. The job is supposedly a quick one, in-and-out in four days, until an irresistible opportunity presents itself to get her hands on more valuable data. We also hear what's happening from two additional viewpoints: David, Maggie's friend in London, whose parents are pressuring him to marry without realizing David is a closet homosexual; and Elise, a nurse in Berlin who learns terrible things about what the Nazis are doing to the children under her care.

It's a good setup for a story, and gives us plenty of opportunity to admire the author's character-drawing ability. Since we readers know the outcome of the war, there's even more drama ("No no don't get on that bus!"). The history details are once-again impeccable; it had personal resonance since Maggie takes a train from Hanover to Berlin and gosh, *I was just in that station*. Once I started reading (which didn't take long after the Amazon box arrived!) I had a hard time putting the book down.

That is, however, despite a few weaknesses that might have chased me away with a less deft writer. There are a lot of helpful coincidences here... too many. It's hard to describe them without spoilers, but my attention was yanked away with things like: The one person that Elise helps JUST HAPPENS to be the one who would mean the most to Maggie?

The storytelling is so good, though, that I cheerfully set aside my criticisms and let myself fall into the warm fog of, "And THEN what happened?"

If you liked the previous books in the series, I expect you'll like this one, too. While nominally you COULD begin with this novel, I recommend you do start at the beginning.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
It has its moments (if you can ignore the hokeyness, plot contrivances and incongruities) 4 April 2013
By Maine Colonial - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Young Maggie Hope is fresh from her training as an agent for Britain's Special Operations Executive and her mission is to be parachuted behind enemy lines to Germany, where she is to drop off some radio equipment for underground resistance forces and bug the offices of German spy Clara Hess. It's supposed to be a quick, four-day mission, but when Maggie is offered a job by a top Nazi, she can't resist staying so that she can possibly find out useful German war intelligence.

Meanwhile, there are side plots involving Clara Hess's daughter Elise, a nurse, who finds out about the Nazis' secret program to euthanize those with mental and developmental disorders, Elise's friend Frieda, who is married to a Jewish doctor about to be sent "to the east" and, back in London, Maggie's friend David's seemingly doomed gay love affair.

Maggie's spying brings her into contact with Elise and their plots mesh, culminating in a tension-filled attempt to escape Germany.

It's hard to know what to think of this story. MacNeal's strengths are that she writes well and knows how to keep a plot moving along at a good clip. But it doesn't move along fast enough to disguise the weaknesses, such as one-dimensional characters, and an absolutely ludicrous plot that reminded me very much of that pot-boiler movie from 1992, Shining Through, in which Melanie Griffith plays a spy in World War II Berlin and has some experiences remarkably like Maggie's.

I have to admit that I had fun reading the book at least half the time. The rest of the time, though, I was slapping my forehead at the number of amazing coincidences necessary to make the story work and some of the looney ideas, like that to make Maggie into a convincing young, middle-class German woman she would, of course, carry around a copy of Mein Kampf in her handbag, or that if you're trying to pass secret messages you would knit them into some piecework and then show that to your contact rather than actually just talk to your contact, who is sitting right next to you in the open air with nobody else around.

I can definitely see this as a guilty-pleasure sort of read. After all, I actually enjoyed Shining Through, although it was one of the silliest dramatic movies ever. Think of this as one of those sorts of World War II movie melodramas, filled with nasty Nazis foiled by a plucky heroine, and you'll enjoy yourself. But if you can't suspend your disbelief and go along for the ride, you will definitely not appreciate this story.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Good writing and characters, but kind of 'jumped the shark' for me. 31 Mar. 2013
By Kristi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Maggie Hope mystery stories have been set in London during World War II. In the first book, Maggie is hired as one of the secretaries that serve Prime Minister Churchill. In the second, she is enlisted as a protective companion to the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. Maggie is a trained mathematician who chafes at being relegated to such feminine roles, but whose code-analysis skills serve admirably when it comes to figuring out what is really going on.

The third book starts with Maggie in training to become a spy. Her mission -- this is not a spoiler, as it is presented pretty immediately -- is to be dropped by parachute into Germany and plant a listening device in the home of a high-ranking Nazi party member.

Although I enjoy Maggie as a character and I feel the author did a fantastic job of providing just enough detail to make the situation seem realistic -- and extremely suspenseful -- I just couldn't get past the premise of the young former typist being spirited in behind enemy lines. For any who miss the reference in my title, "jumping the shark," came to identify points where the storylines of popular television shows became too far-fetched even for fans to embrace (taken from an episode of Happy Days in which a water-skiing Fonzi literally jumps over a shark).

The back-story in the books thus far, detailing a family history for Maggie that she is only just now learning, along with the reader, doesn't help. I think it is a good plot, but the problem is that it makes Maggie's own skills and abilities seem less likely; I mean, I can believe she's got family connections that make her an ideal political pawn, but that makes it harder to believe that she is also incredibly smart, athletic and quite pretty.

I hope that Maggie returns to less physical and more cerebral roles. They seem a much better fit.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Can you say "ANACHRONISM"? 3 July 2013
By suzymawoo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Glaring anachronisms always bring my "suspension of disbelief" to a crashing halt. This book has at least 3 whoppers:
1. How does Maggie get hold of a wireless bug during WW II? Does she have a time machine we weren't told about?
2. The nurse hiding people in Germany gives "IV" antibiotics" to a patient (p. 142). The US military started using penicillin in 1942 on a very limited basis, and mass production didn't get off the ground until after the war. Who knows when it got to German civilians? And since penicillin was the only one, everyone called it "penicillin" for years, not "antibiotics". That word was coined in 1942 by a biologist, but certainly not use by the general public for many years. (And I doubt the abbreviation 'IV" was used at the time either.)
3. Maggie considers how much of her DNA she shares with Elise (p.153). Really? While scientists were establishing the structure of DNA by then, and that it was truly the means of genetic transmission, the structure wasn't known until 1953, and the general public certainly wasn't considering it in the '40s.

There is no way this book measures up to the grim suspense of Bess Crawford (by Charles Todd),or the wonderful character puzzles of Maisie Dobbs (Jacqueline Winspear)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Plausibility Factor 3 July 2013
By Zoeeagleeye - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this book, but frankly, as a long-time reader of spy novels written by people who actually know the spy business, I couldn't keep my mouth from dropping open by the inane, inappropriate and implausible choices made by our heroine, Maggie.

In addition, I suspect that if Ms. MacNeal were not writing this historical spy novel, she would be writing historical romances, complete with fluttering, fainting women and ripped bodices.

There's lots of things wrong with MacNeal's writing -- like she overwrites, she underestimates the mores of the times, especially when it comes to homosexuality, and she doesn't have the requisite depth to go into the necessary personality and character true spies must have -- but the worst flaw MacNeal has is an extraordinary lack of imagination, not for inventing plots or people, but for being able to play out in her mind in time what the consequences are when certain things happen in a relationship. This means that MacNeal has to laboriously shove her characters around inside a ridiculous plot, forcing actions that are not "natural" to the characters that make them. Instead of letting the words and ideas flow, allowing the story to unfold, MacNeal drags characters hither and thither in order to meet her plot rules. So there are lots of inconsistencies. How is it a nurse is never caught trundling people out of the hospital? How is it that the daughter can't figure out people can see she is hiding others? And if Elise can sneak out to a Berlin Swing Party, drink, smoke, dance and slip into the ally to have a quick screw with her date, isn't it a bit of a stretch she turns out to be an "angel" with a conscience and high morals, who prays a lot and intends to be a nun? Not for MacNeal, since she needed both deeds done, and instead of creating two women, she put all the traits into one and they didn't fit, but well, so what? I could not tell Hugh from John. Why in the world would John blow up at Maggie. He, of all people, would know what she had to do. Maggie is not ruthless enough, yet keeping a bullet inside her is a very ruthless act. Why would she feel guilty over shooting someone who is trying to kill her? Wasn't she trained? Or is that another one of those forced, sentimental, breast-beatings we are constantly treated to? We don't get to see David's parents accept Freddie, and what's the point of David getting beat up? It has no relevance. MacNeal tells too much and shows too little. And it's all in the service of fake drama, like Papa traveling a long distance to visit Mama in jail only to harruph three meaningless ego-fueled sentences to her and leave? Because MacNeal has so much fake emotion in her book, the reader is left high and dry, especially dry, without being able to express any of his or her own emotion. You end up really not caring.

I think what people like the most about MacNeal's writing is how well she does the verisimilitude of that era, knowing all the nicknames, the special drinks, the common food and the activities of the times. She's good with scenery, descriptions of buildings and clothes. People? Not so much. It's frustrating knowing that MacNeal has the requisite talent and intelligence, so here's hoping she'll try a little harder next time.
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