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The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia…

The Prisoner in the Castle (edition 2018)

by Susan Elia MacNeal

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5317311,193 (3.5)5
Title:The Prisoner in the Castle
Authors:Susan Elia MacNeal
Info:New York : Bantam Books, [2018]
Collections:Your library, Mysteries/Crime, Historical Fiction, Spy/Adventure/Thrillers, War Time
Tags:ER, Scotland, WWII

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The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This latest outing in the Maggie Hope mystery series (#8) finds Maggie imprisoned with nine other highly trained British spies in an eclectic mansion on an isolated island off the windswept Scottish coast. Each of the prisoners, including Maggie, is considered a security risk to England in the midst of WW II. Although they have no communication with the outside world their stay at the island resembles a weekend retreat at an upper class country home, including dressing for cocktails and dinner, and activities such as fishing, poetry readings and hunting on the grounds.

There is a nod to the format of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as prisoners die one by one, by different means. The remaining spies go to work trying to figure out who is the killer. Unease builds as the plot twists and turns, with good old-fashioned red herrings thrown in that keep Maggie and the reader guessing as to the murderer and motive for the killings. The author develops a great sense of the rugged Scottish setting and maintains tension up to the conclusion.

The enjoyable Maggie Hope series involves a competent and strong female protagonist. This latest is a satisfying mystery to sit down with. ( )
  coho8 | Aug 16, 2018 |
I requested this book from NetGalley not long after reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes, which told the story of Elizebeth Smith, a code-breaker “who played an integral role in our nation's history for forty years,” including working against Nazi Germany in World War II. Because of this, I had high hopes for The Prisoner in the Castle, a fictional mystery which similarly told the story of Maggie Hope, who was described in the blurb as an “American-born spy and code-breaker extraordinaire,” as it seemed it would be some combination of the former with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

However, this was not that book. I was really hoping for more code-breaking from our heroine (which may have played a larger role in previous books, but seeing as I didn’t read them, I can’t say for certain). Although The Prisoner in the Castle had a lot of Agatha Christie-esque elements – with characters overtly mentioning the author – it didn’t have the same feel. I didn’t feel a strong connection with any of the characters and thus wasn’t as motivated to care as much about their demise, or who was behind it. There were too many characters to keep track of (though that seems also to be an Agatha Christie thing, as in And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express), and they weren’t really all that memorable. The subplot about the previous owner of the castle felt more like an afterthought, and it didn’t really mesh with the overall storyline.

Part of the problem, for me, was the fact that I entered this series on the eighth book. Although the author notes they can be read independently from the rest of the series, it is obviously not recommended due to the lack of character development from previous books. The main storyline about Maggie Hope being held on an island with other SOE prisoners that know too much then start mysteriously dying one-by-one was easy enough to follow, and I thought it was decent overall. However, by starting with the eighth book, I didn’t get a true sense of Maggie’s character, her relationship with the other characters mentioned, or any of the events leading up to her imprisonment on the island.

Overall, The Prisoner in the Castle was a decent read, but it still wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be. I probably won’t be checking out the previous books in the series, but I might consider reading subsequent books.

Trigger warnings for gruesome deaths, sexual violence, and hunting/animal violence.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bantam (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine) for a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review.

https://allisonsadventuresintowonderlands.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/susan-elia-macneals-the-prisoner-in-the-castle/ ( )
  Allison_Krajewski | Aug 14, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won this advanced edition through Librarything’s Early Reviewer’s group.

Every time I read a Maggie Hope novel I’m inspired by her bravery and calm in the face of danger. This one was no different. The mystery that unfolds—who is killing spies imprisoned on the island—is full of twists and turns, with a breathtaking climax and proper ending. I was concerned that this would be. Hard one to pick up, as I somehow read the first several novels in the series, missed several more, and then came to this gem. I’m very happy to share though that no prior knowledge of Maggie Hope is necessary to being the journey here.

The author always introduces the reader to quite a cast of characters, and with the return of several old favorites from previous books there is nothing more a reader could want. Bravo! A good recommendation for anyone looking for historical fiction or mystery with only the briefest element of romance. ( )
  Karen.Helfrick | Aug 12, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Prisoner in the Castle bu Susan Elia MacNeal didn't work well on its own. I had read the first three or four installments of the Maggie Hope series, but missed the last two. So I was not sure at all how she got into the situation she was dealing with. It was explained near the end, but again, not how she had learned the information she had. I think some reviewers have mentioned Agatha Christie's habit of having the potential suspects killed off one by one. The same technique was used here.

Maggie has been sent to a castle on a Scottish island 'for specialized training'. It turns out the castle is a place for spies and such who either know so much they present a threat if captured, are thought unstable or some other unforgivable offense. As the other 'prisoners' begin dying they learn there is a German spy amidst them. Three stars for this. ( )
  mysterymax | Aug 10, 2018 |
An inescapable island dooms all!

Maggie Hope finds herself in a dire situation in friendly territory. Sequested on the remote Scottish island of Scara (aka 'the cooler' and the 'Forbidden Island') by the Special Operations Executive for nebulous reasons, along with other rogue agents, things take a sinister turn. Meanwhile Maggie's friends think she's on another mission. No one is aware of Maggie's incarceration. No one is looking for her, until Maggie's needed as a witness for a court case, and even then information is not forthcoming from SOE. Her friends have to take other routes to suss out what's become of her.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants (a rather motley crew, incarcerated for good and not good reasons) of the island begin to meet with foul play. The island becomes a death trap, and there is no way to leave. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie's 'Then There Were None', the tension ramps up as Maggie and her companions are left not knowing who to trust and what the end game is.
Another macabre story about the island and it's previous owner underscores the seclusion of the island, adding grist to the mill as the current inhabitants look to surviving.
I enjoyed this further Maggie 'dare doing' but was not as taken with this Hope novel as I have been with previous titles.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Aug 8, 2018 |
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There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast. - Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. - Ernest Hemingway, "On the Blue Water"
Am fear bhitheas trocaireach ri anam, cha bhi e mi-throcaireach ri bhruid. [He who is merciful to his soul will not be unmerciful to a beast.] - Gaelic Saying
To the brave women and men of Britain's Special Operations Executive, who trained and taught at Arisaig House in Lochaber, Inverness-shire, on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands.
Thank you to Sarah Winnington-Ingram, Kitty Rose Winnington-Ingram, Magnus Winnington-Ingram, and the entire family and staff of Arisaig House, who honor the memory of SOE agents who trained there and who helped me research this book.
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Always remember, when you're on the run, instinct will take over -- and if you're not careful, you'll become nothing more than an animal.
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"American-born spy and code-breaker extraordinaire Maggie Hope must solve a baffling series of murders among a group of captive agents on an isolated Scottish island as the acclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues. Maggie Hope is being held prisoner on a remote Scottish island with other SOE agents who know too much for the enemy's comfort. All the spies on the island are trained to kill--and when they start dropping off one-by-one, Maggie needs to find the murderer... before she becomes the next victim"--… (more)

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