Forbidden Island is where the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) sends all of its problems. Of course, the SOE doesn’t tell the agents it sends there the truth, but instead tells these future prisoners that they are being sent to the out-of-the-way island off the coast of Scotland for “special training.” As the SOE’s latest problem, Maggie Hope hates being on Forbidden Island. Maggie wants to be back in the thick of things doing her part to help win the war for the Allies instead of spending her days slowly being driven mad by boredom. However, any thoughts of ennui are soon banished when first one, then another, and then another of the small group of carefully trained agents on Forbidden Island begin dying.
The Prisoner in the Castle, the eight stellar addition to MacNeal’s exceptional Maggie Hope series, is another literary tour de force. From the book’s perfectly calibrated plot to its incisively etched characters, everything is handle with perfect finesse by the author. Agatha Christie fans will especially appreciate the deft way in which MacNeal tips her cap to the Queen of Crime’s And Then There Were None, and the inventive manner in which MacNeal utilizes that classic mystery as inspiration for her own cleverly crafted storyline. While long-time readers of the Maggie Hope books will be thrilled with the latest mystery masterpiece from MacNeal, this is the kind of series that is most rewarding when read in order. So, if you are new to the adventures of Maggie Hope, start off with Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and prepare to enjoy the hours of reading entertainment that lie ahead of you.