The Paris Spy
In the latest entry in Susan Elia MacNeal’s WWII mystery series featuring codebreaker and secret agent Maggie Hope, Maggie goes to occupied Paris in the spring of 1942 to discover what happened to another agent, Erica Calvert, who had been sent to collect sand samples from the beaches of Normandy to test the beaches’ suitability as an Allied invasion site. Calvert’s latest messages to England have arrived without her security check, and Maggie is afraid she might have been compromised. It turns out, as the reader discovers in the first few pages, that Calvert had been captured by the Nazis but committed suicide rather than reveal her secret. Her samples fall into the hands of Maggie’s friends and fellow agents, Sarah Sanderson and Hugh Thompson, who are in Paris on a mission of their own. But Maggie soon discovers that there may be a double agent within her organization, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), who could imperil the lives of Maggie and all her colleagues. Will Maggie discover the traitor before the Nazis learn the site of the planned invasion? Maggie has another mission in Paris besides her official one: to find her half-sister, Elise, a German Resistance worker, and bring her safely to London. But, as readers of earlier novels in the series will know, Maggie and Elise did not part on good terms, and Maggie wonders if her sister will accept her help.
MacNeal conveys the atmosphere of occupied Paris in vivid detail, as Maggie encounters both collaborators, including Coco Chanel, and members of the French Resistance. The series is especially strong on the role of women in wartime, with Maggie and Sarah putting their lives in danger just as their male colleagues did. The intrepid Maggie is, as always, an engaging heroine.