Today please welcome Beth from Beth's Book-Nook Blog, who's here to dish on one of her favorite cozy mystery series, The Maggie Hope Series by Susan Elia MacNeal. She even had a chance to interview MacNeal about the series! Take it away, Beth.
Today I was ask to do a guest post for BOOK BLOGGERS INTERNATIONAL, so I’m thrilled to be here to write about one of my very favorite genres: cozy mysteries!
I’m a huge fan of cozy mysteries — those fun reads that catch you and draw you in, but are never too scary or violent or cruel. I’m also a big fan of mysteries that take place long ago. The MAGGIE HOPE series by Susan Elia MacNeal is a wonderful series of novels, following the adventures of Maggie Hope, a WWII code breaker and British government worker. Maggie has all sorts of interesting things happen to her, all the while dealing with blossoming (and withering) romances, friends and relationships with interesting people, a unique family situation that could call for a flow chart while reading, and her own beloved cat.
The first book in the series is called MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY. Here’s the overview from Penguin Books:
ABOUT MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY
For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.
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.
In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.
There are currently six Maggie Hope books – with THE QUEEN’S ACCOMPLICE being the latest one (all reviewed on my blog: http://www.drbethnolan.wordpress.com).
DESCRIPTION: Spy and code-breaker extraordinaire Maggie Hope returns to war-weary London, where she is thrust into the dangerous hunt for a monster, as the New York Times bestselling mystery series for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry continues.
England, 1942. The Nazis’ relentless Blitz may have paused, but London’s nightly blackouts continue. Now, under the cover of darkness, a madman is brutally killing and mutilating young women in eerie and exact re-creations of Jack the Ripper’s crimes. What’s more, he’s targeting women who are reporting for duty to be Winston Churchill’s spies and saboteurs abroad. The officers at MI-5 quickly realize they need the help of special agent Maggie Hope to find the killer dubbed “the Blackout Beast.” A trap is set. But once the murderer has his sights on Maggie, not even Buckingham Palace can protect the resourceful spy from her fate.
I never grow tired of Maggie adventures and I find Susan’s research to be startlingly in depth and on target.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Susan MacNeal a few questions. I am friends with her on Facebook and enjoy her posts (we actually have sons the same age with similar interests as well). Susan was gracious enough to send me some insider info that I can share with you readers about how she came to write about Maggie Hopeand her adventures.
1) How did you come up with the idea for Maggie Hope and the series?
Actually, I can thank the Muppets for the Maggie Hope series! Let me explain—my husband is a puppeteer for Sesame Street and the Jim Henson company, and he starred as Bear in the Disney Channel show Bear in the Big Blue House. Well, it was huge in London, so we got to travel there.
Our first night, we met a friend at a pub and he very kindly brought a copy of Time Out London and flipped it open to an ad for the Churchill War Rooms, saying, “Despite what you Yanks might think, World War II didn’t start with Pearl Harbor. Maybe you should go and take a look.”
Considering myself challenged, I set out the next day, through a horrible snow storm (I’m from Buffalo, so it didn’t slow me down).
The museum, set in the underground, concrete-ceiling-protected bunker from which Winston Churchill and his staff ran World War II, looked much as it did during the war. Walking the same hallways that the Prime Minister himself trof was awe-inspiring. And it was a catalist for writing the book. I knew I had to write about the people of the War Rooms, a woman working in the War Rooms—and specifically a young woman, working as a secretary, in the War Rooms.
2) How did you research each novel (as they are meticulously researched!)?
Well, I love to travel to the places in question and do as much first-hand research as I can. I also love to talk to people who lived through World War II. I was privledged to correspond with Mrs. Elizabeth Layton Nel, who was one of Churchill’s wartime secretaries. And one of my friends and editors is a woman who lived through the Blitz in London as a child. Then there are books, of course (first person accounts are best), documentaries, and newspapers and magazines from the time. I love to research!
3) How many books do you plan to have in the series?
Well, THE QUEEN’S ACCOMPLICE (Maggie Hope #6) is just out and made the USA Today- and Publishers Weekly-bestseller lists, as well as a finalist in Goodreads Best Books of 2016 best mystery/thriller catagory. I’m just now finishing up THE PARIS SPY, the next book in the series, slated for publication in summer ’17. And I’m under contract for books #8 and #9 with Penguin Random House. Love writing these books and have lots and lots of stories to tell!
THANK YOU, Susan, for answering my questions!
The Maggie Hope titles are:
- Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
- Princess Elizabeth’s Spy (my favorite!)
- His Majesty’s Hope
- The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent
- Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
- The Queen’s Accomplice
All available from Penguin Random House Books!
Thank you for letting me guest post today at Book Bloggers International. Please stop by my blog at Beth’s Book-Nook Blog: http://www.drbethnolan.wordpress.com or find me on Twitter at @BethsBookBlog and on Litsy at BethsBookBlog!