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Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Maggie Hope Series #5)
     

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Maggie Hope Series #5)

3.7 9
by Susan Elia MacNeal
 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this riveting mystery from Susan Elia MacNeal, England’s most daring spy, Maggie Hope, travels across the pond to America, where a looming scandal poses a grave threat to the White House and the Allied cause.

December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this riveting mystery from Susan Elia MacNeal, England’s most daring spy, Maggie Hope, travels across the pond to America, where a looming scandal poses a grave threat to the White House and the Allied cause.

December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle—as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

Praise for Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
 
“MacNeal paints an engrossing portrait of a country on the verge of war, with many laws suspended and prejudice rife—a world not that much different from today.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“MacNeal’s fifth Maggie Hope mystery is another solidly researched entry with the indomitable Maggie in top form.”Booklist
 
“Another winner filled both with fact and marvelous fiction . . . Maggie is a wonderful character with the strength and determination, as well as intelligence, to make her a resourceful spy.”RT Book Reviews
 
“MacNeal’s images and characters are true to the time, and the resonance of several of the subplots with current events deepen the impact of the tale; MacNeal is to be commended for her skillful weaving of racial and gender issues into an already complex political picture. . . . There’s a tremendous amount of world and U.S. history in this delightful volume.”Historical Novels Review
 
“Addictive . . . [MacNeal] paints convincing portraitures of the Roosevelts and other real-life historical figures. . . . The author continues to tackle heady issues while giving us a beloved heroine to root for. Wrought with peril and tension and extraordinarily rich in detail and research, Hope’s latest adventure will not disappoint fans of the series.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star

Praise for the bestselling Maggie Hope mysteries

“You’ll be [Maggie Hope’s] loyal subject, ready to follow her wherever she goes.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] stellar series.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A treat for WWII buffs and mystery lovers alike.”Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/07/2015
MacNeal’s enthralling fifth Maggie Hope mystery (after The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent) takes the American-born British spy to Washington, D.C., in the company of Winston Churchill, posing as his typist, for a meeting with F.D.R. just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When Eleanor Roosevelt’s temporary secretary, Blanche Balfour, fails to show up for work, Maggie winds up accompanying the First Lady to Blanche’s apartment, where they discover her body and a note implicating Eleanor Roosevelt herself as the reason for her (apparent) suicide. Not only does Maggie try to prevent a scandal that has implications for the presidency and the war, she also assists in the First Lady’s efforts to help Wendell Cotton, a poor African-American sentenced to die by an all-white Virginia jury. While Maggie is the star, MacNeal gives ample space to the political maneuverings of Roosevelt and Churchill. Cameo appearances by such historical figures as Martha Gellhorn, C.S. Forester, and Walt Disney add to the fun. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
 
“[Susan Elia] MacNeal paints an engrossing portrait of a country on the verge of war, with many laws suspended and prejudice rife—a world not that much different from today.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“MacNeal’s fifth Maggie Hope mystery is another solidly researched entry with the indomitable Maggie in top form.”Booklist
 
“Another winner filled both with fact and marvelous fiction . . . Maggie is a wonderful character with the strength and determination, as well as intelligence, to make her a resourceful spy.”RT Book Reviews
 
“MacNeal’s images and characters are true to the time, and the resonance of several of the subplots with current events deepen the impact of the tale; MacNeal is to be commended for her skillful weaving of racial and gender issues into an already complex political picture. . . . There’s a tremendous amount of world and U.S. history in this delightful volume.”Historical Novels Review
 
“Addictive . . . [MacNeal] paints convincing portraitures of the Roosevelts and other real-life historical figures. . . . The author continues to tackle heady issues while giving us a beloved heroine to root for. Wrought with peril and tension and extraordinarily rich in detail and research, Hope’s latest adventure will not disappoint fans of the series.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star

Praise for the bestselling Maggie Hope mysteries

“You’ll be [Maggie Hope’s] loyal subject, ready to follow her wherever she goes.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] stellar series.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A treat for WWII buffs and mystery lovers alike.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-28
In 1941, Christmas offers hope for a beleaguered Great Britain but no peace for an English spy. Now that Japan has attacked the U.S., President Franklin Delano Roosevelt can declare war on the Axis, and Winston Churchill has made a secret trip to Washington to discuss strategy. After starting as Churchill's secretary, brilliant math major Maggie Hope has graduated to become an accomplished spy. Raised in Boston by her American aunt after the supposed deaths of her parents, she now knows that her father is a codebreaker for Great Britain and her mother's a Nazi spy imprisoned in England. Arriving at the White House, she's sucked into helping Eleanor Roosevelt when they go check up on Mrs. Roosevelt's missing secretary, Blanche Balfour, a Southern belle whose boyfriend is urging her to help him create a scandal. Maggie and Eleanor find Blanche dead in her bathtub, her wrists slit. The setup screams suicide, but Maggie is suspicious enough to remove a writing pad from Blanche's room. Judicious use of a pencil shows that a letter written on the pad accused Eleanor of trying to kiss Blanche. Maggie also becomes involved in the cause of Wendell Cotton, a black man on death row in Virginia, whom an all-white jury has convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Mrs. Roosevelt is eager to save him, but her husband refuses to interfere because he needs Southern support for the war effort. While Churchill and Roosevelt huddle, Maggie's former lover, Flight Lt. John Sterling, another of Churchill's aides, is sent to California to drum up publicity and work with Walt Disney on a cartoon Sterling created. Maggie remains in D.C., assisted by a reporter who was once her old college friend, to wrestle with Blanche's murder and Cotton's fate. MacNeal (The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, 2014, etc.) paints an engrossing portrait of a country on the verge of war, with many laws suspended and prejudice rife—a world not that much different from today.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804178709
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/27/2015
Series:
Maggie Hope Series , #5
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
38,037
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
 
“I’m back!” announced Maggie Hope.
 
Her cheeks were pink and eyes bright as the Prime Minister’s jump flight from Boston approached the airport in Virginia. Her heart filled with joy as she saw Washington, D.C., glowing below through the fog. All those in the plane were transfixed with delight to look and see the amazing spectacle of a city lit up. For all of them who had endured over two years of blackouts, the sight of lights at night was precious, symbolizing freedom, strength, and hope.
 
“So, how does it feel?” asked David.
 
As the wheels of the plane touched down on the tarmac she cried, “Tops!” over the noise, her heart racing. And it was great—fantastic even—to be back. And not just in the United States after three years away, but her old self again—or at least a new version of herself.
 
“Back to being our plucky ingenue, I see,” David said, reading her mind.
 
Maggie glared. “Pluck you.”
 
He laughed. “Jumping Jupiter, it’s good to have you with us again, Mags. Don’t you agree, John? The three musketeers from the summer of ’forty reunited! We few, we happy few . . .”
 
John, slim with broad shoulders, impeccable in his blue RAF uniform, glanced up from his side of the aisle. “We band of blasted . . .”
 
“John—” Maggie warned.
 
He had been busily sketching in a leather-bound notebook on his lap. As the plane taxied down the runway, he looked out the window.
 
“No, no Shakespeare tonight—I must have American poetry!” David cried, ignoring their dour companion. “We’re in America now! And the good old U.S. of A. has finally deigned to join us in our fight against the Nazi war machine.” He smirked as he straightened his tie. “You Yanks—always late to a good war . . .”
 
Maggie put a gloved finger to her lips. “Not exactly the most politic way to begin our stay, now, is it?”
 
David sighed. “All right then, back to poetry—Emily Dickinson! Ralph Waldo Emerson! Walt Whitman! ‘I sing the body electric . . . I celebrate the me yet to come . . .’ ”
 
Maggie beamed, for she, too, felt joy. Even though war continued to rage, there was reason to hope. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, just over two weeks ago, the United States had finally joined in the fight alongside the British. And as for her own personal battle, against the Black Dog of depression, as Winston Churchill called it, she had won, if only for the moment. And living in the moment was what counted now.
 
She slipped a silver powder compact from her purse and peered into its mirror, applying red lipstick. It was the lipstick that contained a hidden cyanide pill in the base, which she’d carried on her mission to Berlin as an SOE agent the previous winter. But even those memories were easier to deal with now. From habit, her hand went to her side, where the bullet used to be. But the bullet was gone, surgically removed by a vet in Scotland. You’ve come far, Hope, she thought.
 
Maggie Hope was assigned to Winston Churchill’s trip to visit the United States and meet with President Roosevelt as, ostensibly, the P.M.’s typist. It was a job she’d once held, during the Battle of Britain, in the summer of 1940. But the reality was that she was now a Special Operations Executive, responsible for spying and sabotage behind enemy lines. At twenty-six, she was one of the most senior agents.
 
She, with the Prime Minister, his private secretaries David Greene and John Sterling; Lord Beaverbrook; his personal detective, Walter H. Thompson; and his beleaguered valet, Inces, had all left from Scotland on December 8. As part of Mr. Churchill’s entourage, she’d boarded a blacked-out train in London and traveled to Scotland, then crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the HMS Duke of York, dodging Nazi ships and submarines, and finally arriving in Boston.
 
It was just past sundown, and the lights were obscured by fleecy fog. Overhead, clouds wrapped the moon in gauze. As they all looked out the small windows, she could see the P.M. approach President Roosevelt on the tarmac.
 
“The President is in a wheelchair!” she whispered to David and John, shocked. “President Roosevelt is in a wheelchair!”
 
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was indeed in a wheelchair. An aide in naval uniform stood behind him. The President wore a dark coat over a gray double-breasted business suit, the cuffed legs of which exposed iron leg braces. The snap-brim of his fedora was turned up at a jaunty angle, matching that of his jaw and the cigarette holder clenched between his teeth.
 
She watched as the Prime Minister bent to shake the President’s hand. The P.M., his face flushed with excitement and cold, had arrived in a navy-blue pea jacket from the Trinity House Lighthouse Service and a yachting cap, variations of which he’d worn on the ship during the journey over. He carried a cane equipped with a flashlight for blackouts.
 
“Oh, that’s right—you didn’t come to the Atlantic Conference with us. Polio,” John said bluntly, as he put a few finishing touches on what he was drawing.
 
Maggie blinked, then nodded. She’d known FDR had contracted polio but had no idea the extent of his paralysis. She rose and craned her neck past David to see what John was drawing, but he closed his notebook with a snap. “What are you working on? Why won’t you let us see?” she asked.
 
“I’ll let you see it when it’s ready to be seen.” John slipped the book into his attaché case.
 
“Cryptic as ever,” Maggie said, but smiled. As they stood and moved into the aisle, she stopped and reached up to fix his tie, brushing some imaginary lint off his lapels. They’d almost been engaged to be married when John’s plane was shot down over Germany in the autumn of 1940 and the RAF had pronounced him “missing, presumed dead.” Miraculously, he’d made it back to England alive. But due to his extensive injuries, he wasn’t allowed to fly again and had resumed his former job as one of Churchill’s private secretaries.
 
David was already halfway down the aisle. “Come on, you two!” he called. He was bundled into his tweed coat, a striped Magdalen scarf wrapped tightly around his throat. Where John was tall and dark and somewhat dour when he wasn’t smiling, David was shorter and fair-haired, with respectable round silver spectacles not quite hiding his often outrageous facial expressions.
 
Maggie adored David and was honored when he let her know his secret—that he was “like that.” He lived with his lover, Freddie, in London, while the two men posed for the world as roommates, driven together by London’s wartime housing shortage. “It’s your homeland after all, Mags. Aren’t you going to drop to your knees and kiss the hallowed Yankee ground?”
 
Maggie stuck another pearl-tipped pin in her hat to affix it to her thick red hair. “I think it’s a wee bit cold for any ground kissing, thank you. And we’re in the Commonwealth of Virginia, by the way—the land of Dixie, not Yankee territory.”
 
“But it’s all the good ol’ U.S. of A., yes?”
 
If only it were that simple. . . .  Even though she was giddy to be back, the homecoming was difficult for Maggie. The United States had been attacked. And now she was back home, but certainly not the same person who’d left. Or was London home? Where did she belong?
 
Aunt Edith was the only real parent she had. She didn’t really know her father, Edmund, much less her Nazi mother, Clara. And her sister—half sister, Elise—was convinced she was a monster. Were John and David and her best friend, Sarah, her family now?
 
As Maggie picked her way down the steep steps from the plane to the tarmac, a cold, wet wind blew, and she clapped a hand to her hat to keep it in place. She shivered in her blue wool coat. Surreptitiously, she glanced in all directions, checking the perimeter for any threats. All clear.
 
“Ah, so this is our largest colony,” John deadpanned, glancing around. He looked over to Maggie, his face lighting up—and she felt as though her heart skipped a few beats.
 
In the cold haze, the Prime Minister continued to speak with the President and Lord Beaverbrook, eager and happy as a child. Then President Roosevelt was lifted like a child by his aide and placed into a large black limousine. The other men got in, and it pulled away. A second sedan waited for them in the misty air, engine running.
 
“Miss Hope?” John said, gesturing for her to get into their car first. He and Maggie exchanged a secret look.
 
“Why, thank you, Mr. Sterling.”
 
But David pushed ahead. “I want the window seat!”
 
Maggie and John climbed in beside him, Maggie in the middle. The driver closed the door with a resounding bang. Inside, it was almost too hot, but as they headed to Washington through the hazy darkness, the three weary travelers luxuriated in the warmth. The radio blared the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and David poked at Maggie. “So, is there ‘no place like home’?”
 
“If only I could have clicked my heels three times to bring us here. Would have saved endless bouts of seasickness.” She peered out the window. There were a few lights from houses, even Christmas tree lights. Not to mention the traffic signals, their garish glow piercing the velvety fog. The United States was also at war, but it looked nothing like London’s complete blackout.
 
“We’re so close to the shore—aren’t they worried about sneak attacks by German submarines?” Maggie said. She gave a low laugh. “The ARP wardens in London would have heart attacks if they saw all this light! Goodness, I’d forgotten what headlights look like lit up, without those slotted covers.”
 
“Are they daft?” John asked. “Aren’t they worried about bombs?”
 
“There’s not really anywhere close enough to launch an airstrike here on the East Coast,” David mused.
 
“Yes, well, no one thought the Japanese could launch an airstrike on U.S. territory, either, and now look at Pearl Harbor,” Maggie countered.
 
“True, true,” David admitted.
 
“And all the light—not to mention the radio signal—is making it awfully easy for Nazi U-boats to find things in the dark. And don’t tell me they’re not out there, lurking.” Maggie shivered into her coat, staring out at the veils of fog.
 
“Jumping Jupiter, it’s Paris on the Potomac!” David exclaimed as they entered the city of Washington, referring to the wide boulevards and neoclassical architecture of the capital along the river, magically lit by the hazy glow of streetlamps. “It’s just like the opening montage from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington!”
 
John nodded, dark eyes taking in everything. “Part French, part Federalist, part Daniel Boone.”
 
The radio station segued into Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child.” As they passed the darkened Capitol dome, they also saw posters pasted on walls: remember pearl harbor! enlist now! and buy war bonds!
 
Stopped at a traffic light, Maggie read a humble flyer affixed to a streetlamp: stop wendell cotton’s execution! it read. only 8 days left! prayer meeting with mother cotton and andrea martin! The flyer was illustrated with a photograph of a young colored man in a striped prison uniform.
 
On a bridge near the Lincoln Memorial, machine guns had been mounted, and soldiers patrolled. Outside the Jefferson Memorial, helmeted guards carried rifles with bayonets. Temporary wooden housing had sprung up on the Mall for the sudden influx of war workers.
 
In the city, flags flew everywhere, while brightly lit shop windows were juxtaposed against darkened government buildings. Billboards importuned: war workers need rooms, apartments, homes—register your vacancies now. The sidewalks seemed crowded with soldiers and sailors in uniform. Posters proclaimed, victory gardens will help us win, and the u.s.a. picks chevrolet. As their car passed a newsstand, the Washington Post’s headline screamed: hong kong doomed. Next door, letters on a marquee spelled out kathleen, starring shirley temple.
 
David whistled between his teeth, taking in a brilliantly illuminated department-store window. “Washington used to be a hardship post, you know,” he told them. “Terribly hot and humid in the summer. Now it’s like coming to Oz, isn’t it? You know, England is all black-and-white and now we’ve arrived in the land of Technicolor. Oh! And what do you most want to eat while we’re here?” he asked Maggie and John.
 
They’d all been living on rations for ages. “Hamburger, cooked medium-rare, extra-crispy French fries with lots of ketchup, and a Coca-Cola with ice—lots of ice—from a diner. And chocolate ice cream,” Maggie proclaimed.
 
“No New England clam chowder? Boston baked beans? Lobster roll?”
 
“We’re in Washington, not New England, silly. This is the border between the North and South. Think Maryland crab cakes, biscuits and gravy, and shrimp and grits.”
 
John raised an eyebrow. “What’s a grit?”
 
Maggie gave a sly look. “Ah, haute cuisine américaine.”
 
David wasn’t listening. “I want to try this ‘moonshine’ I’ve been hearing about. And peanut butter and jam on toast. And apple pie.” A panicked look crossed his face. “You don’t think they’re rationing at the White House yet, do you?”
 
“Apple pie.” Maggie sighed. “With cinnamon and nutmeg. And coffee with cream and sugar. And a steaming hot bath, more than five inches deep—bliss!”
 
“What do you want from Father Christmas—er, Santa Claus?” John asked as they passed yet another gaily decorated department store. “Fruitcake?”
 
Fruitcake, right, Maggie thought. Surely he’s joking—and thinking of something just a bit more romantic? “I’m picking up a new toothbrush while we’re here,” Maggie declared. “Mine’s completely worn down. And an enormous fresh cake of soap. Silk stockings—I hear they’re having a run on them now—no pun intended.”
 
“Ha! Well, it would be quite lovely of Santa to remember a nice Jewish boy, but I wouldn’t say no to a bottle of bourbon,” said David. “What about you?”
 
John considered. “Reams of paper.” The rationing of paper had been hard on him. “More pens and notebooks.”
 
Maggie didn’t know exactly what he was working on, but she’d glimpsed a number of sketches. “Our own Leonardo da Vinci. But I’m getting you books—by American authors. You’re both far too parochial in your reading choices.”
 
As they talked about Christmas, their car approached the White House through the murky darkness. Blackout curtains hung at each window. Sentry boxes were set up at driveway entrances and along the perimeter fences. Police patrolled where only weeks before onlookers had promenaded. The wrought-iron gates to the once-accessible White House were now closed and locked. These days, anyone who wanted admittance had to show a “pass with picture engraved on it.”
 
And then there were the soldiers—guards brandishing M1 rifles with bayonets affixed. All carried full field packs and wore steel helmets. Guard towers had been built, and one-inch steel cables ran every which way, controlling the flow of foot traffic. Fifteen days after Pearl Harbor, the White House was in full lockdown.
 

Meet 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.

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Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Maggie Hope Series #5) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Maggie’s Return Home is a Disappointment As the book opens, Maggie has rejoined the Prime Minister’s staff, ostensibly as his secretary, but with the idea that she can use her training as a spy if anything were to happen while Churchill and his entourage are in Washington DC for his meetings with new ally President Roosevelt and the two leaders work on a strategy to defeat the Axis. And it’s a good thing that Maggie comes along, too. The day they arrive, Mrs. Roosevelt’s personal secretary never arrives to work. When Mrs. Roosevelt and Maggie go to her home, they find her lifeless body – an apparent suicide. However, Maggie finds a clue that implicates the First Lady. A scandal could disrupt the fledging alliance between the two countries and derail the war effort. Can Maggie learn the truth? These books have always been written in third person from multiple points of view. At times, that has been used to help enhance the suspense as we know what the villain is up to even if Maggie is still unaware. It has also been used to include some sub-plots that slow things down. Sadly, that’s the case here big time. While most of the action takes place in DC and the surrounding areas, we get a good chunk that takes place in England and even some in Germany. Then, late in the book, a new location is introduced as well. None of these add to the mystery at all. They do cover some of the other historical things happening in the war effort at the time and advance a couple of supporting character’s story arcs, but they detract from the mystery. Not that the mystery is that great either. Between the other storylines and the scenes that are just bringing history to life, we can go pages at a time without Maggie (or us) even thinking about it. The solution is rather abrupt as well. I’m not saying we didn’t see it coming thanks to third person scenes from the villain’s point of view, but Maggie makes some pretty wild leaps. Really, the mystery, the things we are supposed to be reading this book for, is a sub-plot at best behind watching history unfold. In the last book, we got some major character development that really enhanced Maggie. I loved watching that. In this book? All the characters were flat, although a few of them were annoying when they weren’t flat. I was hoping that the awesome character growth would continue here, but it was not to be. Finally, there are the lectures. While there have been aspects in the past that were obviously aimed at advancing modern agendas, it was never as blatant as it was here. The author never misses an opportunity to denounce the civil rights of the era (even saying Hitler took ideas on how to treat the Jews from segregation in the US), women’s rights, imperialism, and capital punishment. There are a few scenes that are characters talking about these issues while other times it’s just a pointless dig here or there. I don’t read fiction to be lectured to. In fact, if I wanted to see pointless debates on these issues, I’d go on Facebook. Worse yet is what these scenes do to a character I liked in previous books. I’m not saying that things were great in America during this time period, but the blatant lectures in a book of fiction were a real turn off. I think I’m so disappointed because I’d enjoyed the series so much and was looking forward to this new one. Sadly, only the most diehard fans of the series need to consider reading Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confident.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal is the fifth book in the Maggie Hope Mystery series. Maggie Hope is traveling with Prime Minister Winston Churchill as his typist. At least that is the official story. Unofficially, she is on assignment (she is spy). Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt mentions that she is worried about her secretary, Blanche Balfour. Blanche failed to show up for work or to call. Churchill asks Maggie to assist the First Lady. They go to Blanche’s apartment and find her dead in the tub. It looks like a suicide. Maggie quickly hustles Mrs. Roosevelt out of the apartment (after snagging a tablet) and anonymously calls the police (something you could still do in the 40’s). Someone had written a note, but it was missing. Maggie was able to use a pencil and see what was written. The contents of the note would compromise Mrs. Roosevelt (and ruin what Churchill and FDR are trying to accomplish). Churchill assigns Maggie to the First Lady to investigate what really happened to Blanche. Wendell Cotton is a (African-American) man on death row at Thomas Jefferson Prison in Virginia. Many people that Mr. Cotton did not get a fair trial including Mrs. Roosevelt. Eleanor is working with Andrea Martin from the Workers Defense League to get Wendell a retrial. Someone is trying to keep Mrs. Roosevelt quiet. Will Maggie be able to find out who in time? There is too much going on in Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante. It is at the beginning of World War II for the United States. We have a murder, the war, the US, the British, the Germans, prisoners of war, and rockets (I only gave a brief synopsis and focused on the mystery). There are many characters and it is extremely difficult to keep them all straight (maybe when I was younger). I found the novel hard to get through. I found the mystery simple to solve (much to my disappointment). I have not read any other books in this series (and I am not likely to either). Maybe if I had read the other books, I would understand the series better. The novel is left unfinished. We have to wait until the next book to find out about the rockets and the missing German prisoner. I give Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante 3 out of 5 stars. Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante was just not the novel for me. I received a complimentary copy of Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante in exchange for an honest review.
prussblue10 More than 1 year ago
I was surprised that this volume did not have the great number of errors as some others in the series earlier titles to include things that did not exist during the periods covered (I use the plural as in some she goes back to WWI as well as the inter-war period). It was a change! In one of the previous books in the series, her publisher allowed her to denigrate readers in print, and at length, for correcting errors that had appeared in a prior book (they wrote to her in private but she denigrated them in public). The author considers what most would call errors as being 'artistic license' as stated by her. She has bragged in the past at how much lengthy research she did, not to mention travels, in preparation for writing. If that were the case, why the gross inaccuracies and errors? She must have had help with this title as the errors were not so apparent. Yet, fairly early on in the story, she has a character speaking of Kamikazes. That was a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941). The Japanese aggressors were on the offensive and quickly gaining ground all over the Pacific. Kamikaze didn't come into the English lexicon until late in 1944 when the Japanese were on the defensive and were motivated to use 'suicide pilots,' Kamikazes. If you take the time to read the author's historical notes, she begins with, "This is a novel. It is a work of fiction. If you want to read history, I suggest reading a nonfiction book or, better still, a library of them." Is it me or are her words towards readers 'snarky' at best? She goes on the say, "However, in the course of writing this book, I consulted 'many' nonfiction books and documentaries, and I'm delighted to share my reading and watching list." She then proceeds to 'share' almost four (4) pages of her reference works which she claims to have made use of in the writing of this 'fictional' novel. OK, I concur that the novel is a work of fiction but it is 'historical fiction.' She took a time period and events in history and then wrote a fictional story associated with the historical period. I know a few 'historical fiction' writers of good repute. They take the history (one uses primary sources in the majority (also called original source or evidence) for citation) and then weave plausible tales within the given historical period framework. They do not insert things that do not belong to the time period they are writing in or create things that did not exist then. Some good authors take abuse from readers that is not earned, e.g. someone didn't like the cover art of a book (most often not an author issue) and gave the book '1 Star' -- for the cover art and not the content of the book , but I don't see any of them denigrating their readers such as this author has. Authors, including really good ones, are making less and less (do a search of the statistics both here and abroad, e.g. U.K.); some can barely survive on their income from books which continues to dwindle. How this author can have the attitude that she has toward readers, and how the publisher permits it in print, is beyond my understanding. I will continue to save good reviews for what I consider to be good authors who didn't work in the publishing business.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
After watching the tv version of Peggy Carter last winter, I feel I have a better idea of how well-trained Maggie is and what she's really up against in a male-dominated career. Only two weeks after the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor, Maggie accompanies Churchill and his contingency on a trip to Washington DC, to show solidarity with FDR and the Americans as they enter the war. When Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary is first missing, then found dead, Churchill loans out Maggie as a multi-faceted replacement. This installment doesn’t encompass very much in terms of time—by New Year’s the story is done, but McNeal covers a lot of territory, including the role of Hollywood propaganda and how the South was only partially willing to come together against a common enemy. Many in the South weren’t fans of the socially liberal FDR, and the storyline about a young black man on death row certainly seemed ripped from the headlines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pleasant
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this latest book in the Maggie Hope series. I loved the fact that she was back on American soil. It is a bit crazy all the things that happen to her in such a short amount of time ... but that's why you read books. To get transported and to buy into the story. I loved it. Definitely worth the wait!
SusanKC More than 1 year ago
Loved it! This is the first book in this series that I have read. I received an ERC from the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway. Even though I jumped into this series late, I was able to enjoy this story. Maggie Hope accompanies Winston Churchill to America in December 1941. While working on the prime minister's staff, it is clear that Maggie is more than just a secretary for the prime minister. After Mrs. Roosevelt's missing secretary is found dead, Eleanor asks Maggie's help in discovering what happened to her. There are many twists of plot as the author includes more than one storyline. Mrs. Roosevelt is trying to help a poor sharecropper who is sentenced to the electric chair. Another member of the prime minister's staff is drawn into the entertainment capital of Hollywood as a means to promote the Allied cause. MacNeal masterfully weaves rich historical detail into her WWII mystery. Throughout it all, Maggie seems to become confident with her role in this time of uncertainty. I will definitely be reading the earlier books in this series!
Muttcafe More than 1 year ago
In December 1941, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington to meet with President Roosevelt. Maggie Hope plays a unique role in Winston Churchill's retinue. Posing as a secretary, she is in a special agent working for the British government. When one of Eleanor Roosevelt's aides is discovered murdered and a plot to discredit the First Lady is revealed, it is up to Maggie to investigate and keep things quiet. Any hint of a scandal could threaten the fragile negotiations between the two powers. Also in the balance is the life of a young African American who is to be executed by the state of Virginia. There is a notable outcry because he was not tried by a jury of his peers. The heavy racism of the time, and the oppression of the Jim Crow laws is posed in parallel with the nazi persecution of the Jews. As Maggie quickly discovers, justice is not black and white, and politics is a dirty business, especially for a spy. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante is a well written historical mystery. While it is fiction, Susan MacNeal spent a great deal of time researching her topic. It shows in her immersive writing. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante brings the America of 1941 to life in an exciting way. 5/5 I received a copy of Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. --Crittermom
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I don't know why, but I just love books about World War II. And this one fit the bill. While it was mostly centered in the U.S. with the meetings between Roosevelt and Churchill. There were also some scenes from England and a couple from Germany. At first, I was a little upset when they had high up German officials in a prison that had every luxury they could want until I figured out they were bugged and trying to get any and all information they could from them. Then I settled down and I was okay with it. HA! While a lot of this was fiction, some of it was not fiction and some of it was fiction based on non fiction. The author tells you in the back of the book what is real and what is not. I definitely enjoyed reading this book although I did get confused thinking that Byrd was the dude in the fedora, not Cole, but I figured that out towards the end when the author spelled it out for me. Sometimes I'm a little slow. However, I was thoroughly entertained and definitely recommend this book. If your into mysteries with a little drama and history, this will certainly be up your alley. There's even a little Hollywood glamour in this and Walt Disney makes an appearance, believe it or not. Thanks Random House and Net Galley for providing a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.