The Prisoner in the Castle

Written by Susan Elia MacNeal
Review by Francesca Pelaccia

Set during 1942 on the Isle of Scarra off the coast of Scotland, The Prisoner in the Castle is the eighth book in the Maggie Hope Mystery Series. In this novel, Maggie has been sent to the island with other SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents. None of these British spies know why but surmise it is because they know too much and may pose a threat to British intelligence and the German spies who have infiltrated it. All are highly trained, especially to kill, but they start dying off in quick succession. It isn’t long before Maggie realizes that they are being killed, and she may be next if she doesn’t find the murderer or a way off the isolated island.

The mystery reads and is paced like a classic Agatha Christie novel, but with the addition of meticulous attention to details and settings and well-crafted characters with their own stories, who are very much a part of their era. I felt I was in that gloomy castle that screamed with grotesque animal decorations, at the dinner table with the characters, and in the social milieu of the time. The Scottish legends the author weaves through the book add interest.

Although the plot has some twists and turns, it is a given that one among the group is the killer. The Prisoner in the Castle is an enjoyable read.