Sunday, November 13, 2016

THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE takes Maggie Hope into dark territory

JUNGLE REDS: Today we’re celebrating Susan Elia MacNeal’s new (#6!) Maggie Hope novel, THE QUEEN’S ACCOMPLICE. The minute it came out it hit USA Today's and Publisher's Weekly's best-seller lists—and is now a Goodreads semifinalist in the mystery/thriller catagory, up against heavy-sitters like Stephen King and David Baldacci. (And it's the last day to vote, which you can do here!) Hurray!

Maggie Hope is everyone
s favorite
whip-smart secretary who defies expectations to become England’s most daring spy. Its historical mystery at its best.. RT Book Reviews has called the series as addictive as a BBC miniseries, with the added attraction of a well-paced thriller. Oprah calls the series “compulsively readable.

returns to war-weary London in 1942. The Nazis’ relentless Blitz may have paused, but London’s nightly blackouts continue. There she is thrust into the dangerous hunt for a monster. 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.

Heres a snippet from the opening, the moment that really kicks the story into gear:

Mark leaned on the edge of his desk and cleared his throat. “The particular young woman in question, SOE Agent Joanna Metcalf, was set to leave for France during the next full moon. What we managed to keep out of the press was that her body was mutilated, in a manner reminiscent of Jack the Ripper’s murder of Mary Ann Nichols, his first victim. Not just reminiscent. A recreation, down to the last detail.”
He handed Maggie another file. Her eyes widened when she saw photographs of the body, along with the painted statement on the brick wall, JACK IS BACK.
“Was she killed there, by the wall?”
“We don’t think so,” Mark explained. “We believe she was killed somewhere else. And the corpse was placed there afterward.”
“Any witnesses?”
“None. But we’re interviewing people who were in the area that night. We ’ve put up signs—you know, ‘Did you see anything on the night of—call us’ sort of thing.”
Maggie went back to the report. “It says here the body was found by a Mrs. Vera Baines, the neighborhood’s ARP warden.”
“Yes, we’ve spoken to Mrs. Baines. She says she didn’t hear or see anything unusual that evening. Literally tripped over the body, wrapped in a blanket and placed by the wall, as the photographs show.”
“It also says here the cuts were made with surgical precision.” Maggie was frowning.
“Which means we’re looking for someone with skills. A doctor? A nurse? A veterinarian?” She tried not to wince. “A butcher?”
Mark crossed his arms. “The exact occupations the original Jack the Ripper was theorized to be.”
“Or someone with a lot of experience with murder,” Frain speculated.
Maggie flipped through to the last page. “There’s no mention of rape.”
“With the extensive injuries, it’s impossible to tell. However, the coroner found no evidence.”
“So,” Maggie said, swiftly piecing everything together, “there are missing SOE women. This particular murder scene had a message allegedly written by someone calling himself Jack, perhaps referring to the Ripper. But what is there to link Joanna Metcalf ’s murder with the disappearances? And weren’t the historic Ripper’s victims all prostitutes? And from Whitechapel? These women aren’t.”
“Our Jack isn’t murdering prostitutes, but they are ‘working women,’ nonetheless,” Frain said. “The twentieth century’s working women—out in the public sphere, doing so-called men’s work, while the men are fighting overseas. The cuts to the lower abdomen show an intense anger toward women.”
“Of course . . .” Maggie murmured, flipping through the pages again. She could see a pattern. Young women from out of town. All in the Women’s Auxiliary services, all somehow connected to SOE. Women like Brynn. Like Sarah.

Like herself.

You'll have to read the book to find out whether Maggie catches the new Jack the Ripper.

From Crimespree: "Elia MacNeal's 
meticulous research shines through on every page, and pays off with a war-time atmosphere that feels real.... But perhaps most strikingly, THE QUEEN’S ACCOMPLICE deals unflinchingly with issues of rape and objectification of women, and a toxic masculinity that is dangerous to the “modern” women of 1940’s England—issues that are still incredibly relevant today. Maggie’s experiences fending off unwanted advances and the twisted psychopathology behind the killer’s exploits rang frighteningly true, and ‘watching’ Maggie break the nose of an attempted rapist gave me no small amount of satisfaction. (I mean, damn did that feel good.)"


THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE is also a semi-finalist for Goodreads' best mystery/thriller. The link for folks to go and vote is here. Please vote!

Susan is leaving Jungle Red Writers to concentrate on writing and family (being a working mom is hard!), but she assures us she’s finishing THE PARIS SPY (Maggie Hope #7) for publication in summer of '17,  and she's under contract for #8 and #9 in the Maggie Hope series. We wish her the best and endless happiness. You can follow her news and updates on Twitter at @susanmacneal here and on Facebook st Susan Elia MacNeal, Author here. She'd love to keep in touch!

We can't wait to have her back for guest visits—so we can all share and applaud her successes. 


  1. Ah, Susan, you will be missed . . . I hope you’ll stop by often.
    Congratulations on all the great reviews for “The Queen’s Accomplice” . . . and thanks for sharing this exciting excerpt. It’s a great book!

  2. Oh no! We'll miss you, Susan. :-(

    But we have your books and this latest is great, as usual.

    Best wishes as you continue writing.

  3. Am sorry that you're leaving the Jungle Reds, but am happy to be following you on Facebook. All the best with writing and the rest of your duties as you continue to spin tales of Maggie's life!

  4. This is a terrific excerpt. I'm hooked.

    You'll be missed at JRW, but I wish you the best!

  5. We'll miss her, too! She's going out in a blaze of glory - be sure to vote on GOODREADS!

  6. I'll miss seeing Susan here but look forward to continuing to read her books! Voted on Goodreads. Good luck

  7. I voted! Susan, we'll miss you and hope you'll check in often. Best of luck with everything you have to juggle!

  8. Going to miss you at Jungle Reds, Susan, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

    Write long and prosper

  9. So sorry you are leaving, but glad we can still keep up on Twitter and FB. Curious, why do you think the Ripper story is always timely? Is it because they never caught him? I have a shelf of Ripper books. Most writers do. Even today the copycat killings abound. Looking forward to the newest accomplice and your treatment of the Ripper story. All the best!

  10. The newest book is a real nail-biter! It's marvelous.
    You will be missed here. Best wishes on your writing and family-ing.

  11. Oh, Susan, I'm so going to miss you here on Jungle Reds, but I will continue keeping in touch through FaceBook and Twitter. I am a huge fan of both your writing and you, also the amazing Mattie and puppeteer extraordinaire Noel. The Maggie Hope series is absolutely one of my favorite series, and I will continue to vote for The Queen's Accomplice on Goodreads. It is on my favorite for 2016 list.

  12. Susan,

    You will be missed here at JRW. I was introduced to your Maggie Hope series when I received the first two books as a Christmas gift and loved your series since then!

    I agree with Kathy Reel about the amazing Kiddo and puppeteer extraordinarie Noel!

    Hope to stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter. Would love to know if you will have a book signing appearance in California.


  13. So funny, I fell in love with Susan's books by chance… I was in a bookstore outside Chicago, and completely exhausted, and I thought I'm going to read a book with a cover I love. There was Mr Churchill's Secretary. And I was hooked! Don't forget to go to good reads to vote…

  14. Susan,

    I will miss you! I've been off Facebook for many months but now I want to get on again so I can keep up with you! It was through a Facebook friend that I first heard of you. I just purchased your latest book and I can't wait to get started on it. So good to know that there are more on the way!

    Deb Romano

  15. I finished The Queen's Accomplice a couple of days ago. What a ride! I feel like it ended way too soon though. In fact, why didn't you attach The Paris Spy so I don't feel like I'm at the cliff's edge?

  16. Susan,

    You will be missed on Jungle Reds, but I will continue to follow all writing exploits. You're such a wonderful writer.