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Maggie Hope is off to California to solve a crime that hits too close to home—and to confront the very evil she thought she had left behind in Europe—as the acclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL • “An absolute triumph . . . Maggie Hope is irresistible.”—Hilary Davidson, author of Her Last Breath
Los Angeles, 1943. As the Allies beat back the Nazis in the Mediterranean and the United States military slowly closes in on Tokyo, Walt Disney cranks out wartime propaganda and the Cocoanut Grove is alive with jazz and swing every night. But behind this sunny façade lies a darker reality. Up in the lush foothills of Hollywood, a woman floats lifeless in the pool of one of California’s trendiest hotels.
When American-born secret agent and British spy Maggie Hope learns that this woman was engaged to her former fiancée, John Sterling, and that he suspects her death was no accident, intuition tells her he’s right. Leaving London under siege is a lot to ask—but John was once the love of Maggie’s life . . . and she can’t say no.
Maggie struggles with seeing her lost love again, but more shocking is the realization that her country is as divided and convulsed with hatred as Europe. The Zoot Suit Riots loom large in Los Angeles, and the Ku Klux Klan casts a long shadow everywhere. But there is little time to dwell on memories once she starts digging into the case. As she traces a web of deception from the infamous Garden of Allah to the iconic Carthay Circle Theater, she discovers things aren’t always the way things appear in the movies—and the political situation in America is more complicated, and dangerous, than the newsreels would have them all believe.
Set in 1943, MacNeal's meticulously researched if overstuffed 10th Maggie Hope mystery (after 2020's The King's Justice) takes Maggie, an American stationed in England who works for MI5, to Los Angeles, where Gloria Hutton, the fianc e of RAF pilot John Sterling, has been found dead in a hotel swimming pool. The police are quick to label the deceased a "hophead" and rule her death an accident, but Sterling refuses to believe their assessment and asks Maggie to investigate. Maggie's inquiry, which takes her to film sets, nightclubs, and other Hollywood locales, eventually leads her to a charismatic L.A. cop who heads the local Ku Klux Klan and is plotting to blow up a theater during the premiere of an important war film. Appearances by such real-life notables as Linus Pauling and Walt Disney serve to highlight the widespread discrimination casually perpetrated against people of color, Jews, migrants, and LGBTQ communities. Amid all this social commentary, the search for Gloria's killer tends to recede into the background. Still, fans of golden age Hollywood will find plenty to like.