Princess Elizabeth’s Spy

As a fourteen year in danger of being kidnapped by the Nazis, the future Queen of England is the foil for the second Maggie Hope mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal in “Princess Elizabeth’s Spy.” With the same charm as her first Maggie book – “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” – MacNeal combines espionage with World War II history.

If you haven’t read the first book in the mystery series, MacNeal brings you up to date on continuing characters and introduces a few new ones. Maggie’s father reappears to add drama to the plot with his questionable past as a double agent.

As part of her undercover persona, Maggie, a math whiz and British citizen who grew up in the United States, tutors the young Elizabeth in algebra and codes that she can use to communicate secretly. A new romance is brewing between Maggie and a fellow spy, and the relationship between Prince Philip and the future Queen Elizabeth is just beginning. With some help from Churchill, Maggie thwarts the villains in an exciting finale on Christmas Day at Windsor Castle.

A fun easy mystery with a heroine who has the flavor of an intelligent Bridget Jones, Maggie Hope has become one of my favorite sleuths.

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

The Queen of England needs to get away, quietly, and without her usual entourage; she manages to escape the palace in William Kuhn’s Mrs. Queen Takes the Train. A few of her close men and women “in service,” follow to insure she returns before being discovered. Following a tradition established by Allan Bennett in The Uncommon Reader, Kuhn offers a humorous and insightful image of the Queen, with a few humanizing asides. With enough facts to make the action believable, the story can be slow moving at times, but includes some thoughtful – and sometimes humorous – perspectives on the life of royalty, and its upstairs/downstairs following.