I have read the 80th book for the book challenge. It was Princess Elizabeth’s Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal.
Maggie Hope is a British woman who has been raised mainly in the United States by her aunt after the death of her mother in a car crash. Her father is a spy for MI-5. Maggie returns to Britain at the beginning of World War II and goes to work for MI-5 herself. She dreams of being sent to the Continent as a spy but she is having trouble passing the physical portion of her training.
In her last adventure, Maggie worked as a secretary to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He has now recommended her for another important assignment. He has recommended her to be a maths tutor for Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle as well as being a spy there to protect the young princesses. Maggie willingly agrees to this arrangement. She has an extensive background in mathematics and relishes the opportunity to serve her country.
Maggie arrives at Windsor Castle where King George VI and his family are staying. She becomes Princess Elizabeth’s tutor. Lilibet, as she is known, is enthralled to learn about secret codes involving mathematics and she and her sister Princess Margaret devise their own code and practice it with Maggie. Maggie makes contact with her handler Hugh. He tells her he may ask her to make copies of various personnel files. Then Lady Lily, one of the Princess Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting, is murdered when out riding. Maggie investigates to make sure that the princess was not the target and she reassures herself that the princess was not. Then Maggie finds a book that Lady Lily had and finds a German decrypt hidden inside the book. Lady Lily was a German spy! Maggie also finds that a woman from Blenchley was murdered at Claridge’s at the same time that Lady Lily went to Claridge’s. She thinks there may be a connection. Maggie makes friends with Gregory, a wounded fighter pilot who was a friend of Lady Lily’s who doesn’t want to go back to flying and who drinks too much. Hugh asks Maggie to make a copy of Lady Lily’s personnel file and Maggie sneaks into Gregory’s office and photographs Lady Lily’s file and gives the film to Hugh.
Maggie helps the princesses put on a play for their parents and for the prime minister for Christmas. They will be performing Cinderella. Maggie and Hugh help with the painting of sets and Maggie helps the girls learn their lines. Maggie receives a book of fairy tales that was hers from her father. Lilibet comes to Maggie’s room and is reading the book and spills tea on the book. Small pinpricks appear over some of the letters. It is a code. Maggie figures out the code. It is the names of three MI-5 agents who were killed around the time of her parents’ car accident. She believes that her father was a double agent who killed Hugh’s father, one of the agents mentioned.
One of the other ladies in waiting has caught the attention of Maggie. Maggie has made photos of her personnel file, too. The French maid is very accommodating to everyone. The play is performed for the king and the prime minister. Everyone is quite pleased. There is a ball. At one gathering, a footman tries to assassinate the king. He is shot in the shoulder. The footman escapes. The children are taken to the nursery. Lilibet is told by the French maid that Philip, her boyfriend is on the telephone in the kitchen. Lilibet goes with her and it kidnapped. Maggie realizes what is happening and goes after them. Lilibet stops and scratches a coded message in a stone to tell people where they are going. Maggie’s friend David, Churchill’s aid who is carrying the prime minister’s papers, is also kidnapped.
Maggie and Hugh follow the kidnapper to the place where they are meeting a U-boat. Gregory is behind the kidnapping. He is taking the princess and David to Commandant Hess in Germany. Maggie and Hugh try to stop them. Hugh is shot and Maggie is taken hostage. They are taken on the U-boat. They are put in a holding cell on the U-boat. They are thinking how to get the U-boat to surface so that the British boat can find them. They manage to start a fire and the boat surfaces. They escape and get out of the boat. The British boats find them. Gregory jumps off the U-boat and starts to swim and drowns. Maggie, David, and the princess are rescued.
At a meeting of MI-5, Maggie learns that the book she has was actually a code for her mother. Her mother was the double agent, not her father. Her father is still a highly placed MI-5 agent. Her mother is alive and is Commandant Hess who tried to kidnap the princess.
Maggie goes to the wedding of her good friend Chuck. She is the maid of honor. She is still grieving for her fiancé John who was shot down over Germany. But she stays the night with Hugh, whom she is attracted to. Now she is to begin a new chapter in her life as a spy.