His Majesty’s Hope, the third book in Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope mystery series, begins with our favorite American ex-pat, Maggie Hope, completing spy training and preparing to drop into Berlin as the first woman spy to go behind enemy lines during WWII. While she is nervous at the unknown that lies ahead she is also excited for this new adventure and ready to finally prove that she can do her part to try and end the German war machine. So off she goes, leaving all of Maggie Hope’s life behind and immersing herself in the life of her cover identity, German Margareta Hoffman.
When Maggie’s initial mission – to deliver materials to a resistance group and infiltrate and bug Commandant Clara Hess’s office (Clara Hess being Maggie’s mother who she believed until recently was dead) – is completed she discovers she has a unique opportunity to get even more information for the English and decides to stay in Berlin undercover a bit longer. But circumstances beyond her control begin to unravel fast and Maggie not only discovers how truly heinous the actions of the Nazis have become but information of a more personal nature – she has a half-sister named Elise she never knew about, a half sister who is doing her own part from within Germany to help bring down the Nazis. When Maggie must seek Elise’s help to escape Berlin when her cover threatens to be blown, she also discovers that one of the people Elise has been hiding out in her attic is a man from Maggie’s past, one that will stir up her heart and change her personal life in ways she didn’t expect.
As Maggie fights to get out of Germany alive she must use all of her skills as a trained spy and a pragmatic thinker to do so. But her own well-trained and scheming mother isn’t about to make her plans easy and no one, not even brilliant Ms. Hope, will be prepared for what comes next.
I say this after reading each book in this series, but I just love Maggie Hope! She is brilliant, snarky and capable in so many more ways than many of the men surrounding her give her credit for. While His Majesty’s Hope has much of the same humor sprinkled in amongst the serious issues of war, loss and evil, I found this book to be much darker than the previous two. The reader is not only reintroduced to the many terrifying Nazi actions most of us already know about, such as the horrific and brutal treatment of the Jews, but told of the disgusting Children’s Euthanasia Program which saw German children deemed unfit for life (those that were blind, deaf or mentally or physically deformed) being gassed to help ultimately purify the German race. I had not heard of this practice before and let me tell you I was as disgusted as the characters when they found out. Getting an inside view of the German people during this time – both those that supported the Nazis and those that worked to try and stop them – was fascinating and a new viewpoint for me.
The other aspect that I found interesting was the subtle underlying idea that evil was, and is, everywhere. While what the Nazis were doing was utterly putrid, the references to the American treatment of American Indians and blacks throughout history and the disdainful treatment of homosexuals in all countries discussed helped highlight that no country or person is perfect and everyone has their demons to shoulder.
While not wanting to give anything away, His Majesty’s Hope ends with many plot lines left unresolved and ready to be picked up when the next book in the series comes out, which I hope doesn’t take very long! While Ms. MacNeal does a stellar job of getting a new reader to the series caught up on what occurred in the previous books, I would definitely suggest starting at the beginning of the series. By this third novel our brilliant Maggie has grown up quite a bit and is a little more cynical and haunted than previously, something that is inevitable when you read what she has gone through. You will want to meet the young, ambitious and slightly naïve Maggie in order to appreciate the more mature and driven woman she becomes.
No matter what you decide to do, however, I can’t see how you could not fall in love with Maggie Hope and all the wonderful people she has around her (especially her flat mate David!). There is so much to love with this series I would recommend this to just about anyone who likes history, mysteries or just a lively, admirable female character.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bantam. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.