Monday, May 20, 2024

The Last Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

First Line from Prologue: July 1943. General Walter Friedrich Schellenberg, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, raced his black Mercedes coupe through the dense pine forest and then up the cobblestone drive to the gates of the looming castle.
Maggie Hope has come a long way since she was Mr. Churchill's secretary. She's learned espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance, among other things. But now British Intelligence has ordered her to assassinate Werner Heisenberg, the physicist who may give Germany the atom bomb. Maggie is shaken to her core. How can the Allies even be sure that Germany does have the bomb? She travels to Madrid where Heisenberg is giving a lecture to gather more information.

Once in Madrid, Maggie finds her presence being requested at the British ambassador's by none other than French fashion designer, Coco Chanel. Maggie-- finally having the opportunity of a happily-ever-after of her own with John Sterling-- wants no part of being an assassin, but she knows what will happen if Germany has an atom bomb. Never have her professional and personal choices been more crucial. And... just what does Coco Chanel want with her?


It's always sad to see a favorite series end, but-- to be honest-- Susan Elia MacNeal's excellent Maggie Hope series had no choice. People in Maggie's line of work had notoriously short shelf lives. With everything she was being asked to do, her number was going to be up sooner rather than later. And what better way for her career to end than in this pedal-to-the-metal thrill ride, The Last Hope?

I have enjoyed every second of Maggie's service in World War II. She's grown from a bright yet naive young woman to a brave, resourceful agent for British Intelligence. In The Last Hope, Maggie finds herself in a moral dilemma facing betrayal and personal danger, and every step she took felt right to this reader. 

As usual with one of MacNeal's books, I felt right at home in the setting and time period, aided a great deal by the little details that the author added to the story. I'd often wondered how Londoners navigated bombed-out streets during the blackouts, and MacNeal mentions the "curbs painted phosphorescent white to glow in the dark." In addition, you simply have to have a bon-mot by the incomparable Winston Churchill. Once again, the man made me laugh when he said that the British "ambassador was descended from a long line of maiden aunts." I also enjoyed seeing Madrid in wartime. Maggie found it quite a change to be in a neutral country, and so did I.
In The Last Hope, a character asks Maggie, "Will I ever read about you?" to which Maggie replies, "Not if I do my job well." One of the things I am most grateful to Susan Elia MacNeal for is bringing to light just what so many incredibly brave women did in service to their country during World War II. Thank you, Susan. You took splendid care of Maggie, and I look forward to your new stories. 

The Last Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
eISBN: 9780593156995
Bantam Books © 2024
eBook, 304 pages
Historical Mystery, #11 Maggie Hope mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley


  1. In my opinion, Cathy, ending a series on the right note like that takes a lot of talent. I think a lot of authors tend to keep going a bit longer than they should with a series, but this sounds like a satisfying end, even if you are going to miss the characters, etc.

    1. I agree with you-- I think a lot of authors tend to keep going longer than they should, but in a way I do understand--- "fans" can be absolutely vicious!

  2. Thank you for the review. New author for me.

  3. If a favorite series has to end I'm always grateful when the author does it well and leaves you feeling satisfied.


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