Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary
By Susan Elia MacNeal
Published: April 3, 2012

"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."

My review:

Mr. Churchill's Secretary starts out with the murder of a young woman who worked as a typist at 10 Downing Street. Then the pacing slows as we are introduced to Maggie Hope and her friends and the situation with the war in Britain. In between all of this we get glimpses of one of the villains, Michael Murphy, who is involved with the IRA. 

The story becomes more interesting as Maggie starts working directly with Churchill. The reader learns about Churchill's mannerisms and habits, the politics in Britain at the time, and the lives of ordinary people living under the threat of air raids. There is plenty of mystery mixed in with all of the historical fact. The central mystery is about the plot of a group with links to both the Nazis and the IRA and there is a secondary mystery involving Maggie's family. I liked the mystery and seeing how Maggie proved herself to those in charge. I loved the unexpected plot twists. I usually pick up on things quickly and I'm not easily fooled but I was taken in by the twists in this book! 

As a protagonist Maggie is brave and smart and daring. There are several scenes where she is pushed to the limit and she proves that she is capable for much more than her employers give her credit for. The other characters don't quite standout to me like Maggie did. I liked seeing the portrayal of real historical figures like Churchill but some of the secondary characters were rather standard. 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic mystery and start to the series but I do wish that some of the storyline had been tightened. There is a lot going on with the war, the family secrets, the romantic issues, etc. and there were times when I thought the story got a little too far from the mystery. Still, I enjoyed this book and loved that it surprised me in the end. If you like historical mystery you should consider giving this book a try.


  1. I loved Maggie so much (and even more in the sequel!) I also loved seeing Churchill; I totally need to read some Churchill bios. Definitely agree that the mystery wasn't always as prominent as it should have been with lesser threads taking up space but I guess that's part of setting up other stories to explore in future books.

  2. Glad to see that you enjoyed this book. I encourage you to read the next in the series 'Princess Elizabeth's Spy' as I think you will enjoy that one as well. I think this series has potential to be something great and I agree some things need a little ironing. Great review.


  3. Sounds interesting! I do enjoy a good mystery.


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