Cover Image: The Hollywood Spy

The Hollywood Spy

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Member Reviews

I've enjoyed the Maggie Hope series up until this point.  I found this story anachronistic and too overtly anti-racist for a historical mystery.  The mystery was pretty good, the characters continue to evolve, but the attitudes were so very twenty-first century as to be jarring.  I'm glad to see depiction of progressive and open-minded characters, but within historical context please.
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Such a cute story.. Maggie Hope is in LA, during the start of WWII.. She is American Born, British spy and she happens on a new case & realizes that there is a dark side to Hollywood. It turns out the victim is the girlfriend of an old flame. John asks for help and Maggie is eager to oblige.. she can’t say no.. She is deeply saddened by the state of her country. She realizes that not all of the people are with the Allies. That others have dark secrets, hatred towards different races and religions.. As she follows the trail of this murder she comes in contact with some despicable people and situations.. She just can’t believe how much propaganda is in the US and just hopes to settle the mystery soon.. This is my first book in the series and it was good. It read like a stand alone but I will read others.. the writing is good and it was a quick read.
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I had enjoyed reading this book and the previous books. it was what I wanted from Maggie Hope Mystery series, the characters were great and I enjoyed the plot.
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I think this may be my favorite Maggie Hope Mystery yet.  Burned out British spy, Maggie Hope travels to Los Angeles and rubs shoulders with Hollywood celebrities but there is a dark side to the outward glamour.  A young woman is found drowned in a hotel pool and her fiancée is suspicious that her death is not an accident.  The young man,  John Sterling, was also once engaged to Maggie.  John and Maggie put aside past grievances to investigate and find an underground group who opposes the United States involvement in WWII.  Could this be related to her death?
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Maggie Hope has come to Hollywood to help her friend and former fiancé, Captain John Sterling as he adjusts to the sudden death of his now fiancée, Gloria.  John doesn't think that her death was an accident as the police have stated.  Gloria worked for a German Nazi group and had testified against one of the chiefs in a sedition trial.  The more Maggie and John look into the circumstances of the end of Gloria's life, the more they see of corruption, racism, police brutality, anti-Semitism - it goes on and on.

The story was interesting but I don't think that it was on the same level as previous books.  Maybe because of the subject matter and trying to fit too much into the storyline.
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I have not read all of this series but plan to start at the beginning in order to get more of the backstory. I love the historical aspect of old Hollywood and Maggie Hope is a strong character.  The story is well written and rich in detail. 
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I received an e-galley copy of this title for review.

Maggie Hope leaves war-torn London and her dangerous job defusing bombs to return to the United States to help her ex-fiance, John Sterling, who is working for the Walt Disney film studio.  He asks Maggie to investigate his fiance's death, which he believes was no accident.

Maggie confronts a Los Angeles which is very different from what movie-goers see at their local theaters.  A city that is awash in racism, violence against minorities, the Klan, and crooked cops.  The case leads Maggie from the Garden of Allah to the Carthay Theater during a complicated and dangerous political situation in America.

Another great book in the series that fans will enjoy reading.
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This book is part of the Maggie Hope series.  Set in LA in 1943, Maggie must confront evil, solve a mystery, and stay alive in this wonderful addition to the series.  The Maggie Hope series is a fun trip through time with a strong woman detective.
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The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal is the tenth book in the Maggie Hope series. The setting for this historical fiction mystery is Los Angeles in 1943. Maggie agrees to return to the states to help her former beau Flight Commander John Sterling investigate the death of his fiance. The police have ruled this an accidental drowning. However, the more Maggie investigates, she concludes that this is a homicide. Maggie realizes that the glamour of Los Angles covers up the sinister underbelly of fascism, police corruption, racism, and antisemitism. I was very fascinated with all the resources the author consulted to develop this story. All the books in the Maggie Hope series are excellent. Thank you, Net Galley, for this ARC.
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It is always hard to jump into a series without having read the earlier books, and The Hollywood Spy is the tenth in the Maggie Hope series, so in order to educate myself a bit on Maggie’s backstory, I read through the summaries available online for the first nine books. This book takes place in the summer of 1943 in Los Angeles, which is quite different from the settings of the other books. The plot only tangentially involves World War II, so this seems quite a departure from the other novels. 

There is a heavy emphasis on American society’s ills at that time: racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Asian sentiment, anti-German sentiment, anti-LGBTQ sentiment, police corruption and white supremacy, particularly the KKK. It seems, in 2021, that not nearly enough has changed since then. It was eerily reminiscent of today’s poisonous politics and divided nation.

I found the focus on home-grown Nazi sympathizers quite interesting. But Maggie’s constant surprise and disgust at the overt racism on display in LA got to be a bit too much. She apparently grew up in the US and spent some time in recent years in Washington, DC, so she should not have been so surprised. After a number of these incidents, it almost felt like the author was lecturing the reader. (The expression “beating a dead horse” comes to mind.)

There was also an overload of name-dropping of famous people of the era. I find it hard to believe that Maggie would run into all of them during her short time in the city.

I may go back and read one of the earlier books in this series, one where the action takes place in Europe and is linked more directly with the war.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bantam for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book. All opinions are my own. While I received the eARC from NetGalley, I wound up bouncing between the ebook and listening to the published audiobook by Random House Audio. The narrator, Susan Duerden, did an excellent job with the many voices and accents.
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Set against a backdrop of a Hollywood grappling with political influence seeping into the day to day of studios. It seems the studios offer the perfect shield for Maggie Hope to solve the mystery of a crime she saw all too often in Europe. An American born agent, she has seen and done all she can to promote an allied victory. Finding home as divided as Europe she grapples with her assignment,to infiltrate the studio system to find the evil that’s working within.
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An unexpected visit!

1919. The world of Verity Kent and her husband Sidney moves in ever widening circles of mystery, treachery, and suspicion as they deal with the many challenges that come their way. The repairing of their marriage, dealing with the PTSD they both experience, for Verity her grief over her dead brother and the stressed relationship with her family, including Mommy Dearest. Then there’s the shadowy figure of the infamous Lord Ardmore and their next steps in proving his treason, if he doesn’t get them first.
Verity’s German great aunt, Grosse Tante Ilse, who’d helped Verity during her covert activities behind enemy lines, slips into England along with her maid seeking refuge. Trouble arose for Ilse after Verity had left. England seems the safest place. But is it, given the population’s attitude towards Germans? The people of Verity’s home village are no exception.
Verity and Sidney take her aunt to the family home in the Yorkshire Downs. Verity’s first visit since her brother Rob died. She faces the wrath of varying members of her family who of course have no inkling of what she’s been through, and under the Secrets Act never will. Although her brothers have started to put two and two together. When Death comes calling, Verity and Sidney must consider all possibilities. None of them comforting. 
Sidney becomes a more solid person here. I have come to appreciate him. I really was not that enamoured of him, even though he was working for King and Country.
Many aspects of post war sensibilities, the emotional and physical burden of those who fought and those left behind, of families healing—or not; of attudes, of a nation trying to move forward, are either directly confronted or hinted at.
I really enjoyed this chapter of Verity’s story. So many memories—both painful and good! Memories she has to face—and at last, not alone.

A Kensington Books ARC via NetGalley
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Compliments of Netgalley, I received the ARC of The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal, tenth in the Maggie Hope mystery series set during WWII. Called to Los Angeles to solve a suspicious crime, Maggie learns of the deceptively complex American political culture of 1943. I was surprised to learn of the racist and homophobic atmosphere in California, and of the presence of the American Nazis and the KKK. Recalling all of the films, music, stars, landmarks, and food of that era was a plus in this well researched historical novel.
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I think that it is important to note that I am not someone who frequently reads historical fiction, as I tend to find that a lot of times the stories do not hold my interest like other genres. Which is weird considering I studied History and English in college so you would think it would be my favorite. Anyways... random unnecessary tangent aside... that was absolutely not the case with this story. I think the author created this world that was a perfect balance of learnable history and events, with fiction that made the story truly come to life. I truly think that this author will forevermore be an auto buy author for me especially when it comes to this genre. I loved the fact that even though this book is technically a part of a series, I didn't feel like I was necessarily unable to keep up with the story not having read the others. I truly thought that this story was innovative and fun, while still holding some historical truths. Overall I think that this is a great book for both avid historical fiction readers. as well as readers like me who aren't the most versed in this genre but are curious. Overall I really enjoyed.
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While I usually read cozy mysteries (and I would qualify this as a cozy thriller), I still enjoyed it.  (By "cozy thriller", I mean that the reader had insight into motives, suspects, etc. that the main characters didn’t, but it still wasn’t to the level of sex and violence usually experienced with a James Bond type character.)

I liked seeing the impact of World War II from the view point of the Americans, and the view of the English main characters on California - the lack of rationing, for example, and the sunny weather. I haven’t read the previous book in the series, mostly because of reviews about how Maggie’s behavior had gotten to be over the top in it; I think this book addresses that to some extent.

My big complaint is that too many of the main characters had too modern outlooks.  Maggie’s view of racism, for example, made me feel she was ready to be out planning a BLM march when I think it would have been more appropriate given the time period for her to be planning to hear King give his “I Have A Dream” speech - her actions were three generations ahead, rather than just being one.  But that’s a complaint I’ve had with several of the books in the series; it hasn’t been frustrating enough for me to avoid reading other books in the series, however, so I probably will read the next one.

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Maggie Hope, is such a thrilling character. I love strong female leads and this character is most definitely fierce! I truly enjoyed learning from the facts and historical content presented in this book. In our current times, it was enlightening to get a glimpse of the past and how the actions of caring individuals can promote positive change. The story line was light with hints of suspense and really kept me captivated. I can't wait for Maggie Hope's next adventure.
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Maggie Hope is once again solving a death in LA of Gloria. Maggie and John, who lives in LA now, work together to solve the mystery of her death as more deaths occur. What is the connection? Why did John want Maggie to come from London?
This story is full of stars, movies, real places in Hollywood; corrupt police, Klu Klux Klan underground pro-Nazi, racial attitude. It is wartime in the US. Some of the descriptions of this time period are a bit unnerving, but based on fact. The list of resources used by the author are listed at the end of the book.
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Maggie Hope in Hollywood! Sounds so glamourous, but this slice of 1943 Los Angeles is full of danger, propaganda, discrimination and possible murder. Maggie arrives to assist her former fiance, Captian John Sterling, in his investigation into the death of current fiancee. There is a lot going on, the descriptions of place and time are wonderful. I didn't know much about the history of Zoot Suits and the Zoot Suits Riots, which is one of the many ways this 1943 story doesn't seem all that long ago.
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I absolutely loved this book! It has everything I love about historical reads and great characters. I had no idea this was a series and it not only was a great standalone but I'm thrilled to read more books with Maggie Hope. I loved the Old Hollywood vibes and details not to mention fantastic ending! A must read!
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CW: one of the POV is a KKK member, so expect lots of racism, antisemitism, usage of slurs etc. 

Probably more of a 3.5 but I’m rounding up. 

I actually started reading this a while ago but abandoned it after a few pages coz I wasn’t in the mood. But it’s also one of the few longest series I have been following for a while, so I didn’t wanna totally give up and decided to read it for the readathon in August. 

This was not an easy book to read, not because of the writing at all, but because of the time period it is set in. 1940s America, and specifically Los Angeles maybe outwardly glamorous because of Hollywood, but the other side of it is full of Nazis and fascists and racists fighting for their so called white America. So, the author uses some of the events that took place during those trying times to create an engaging murder mystery with large scale implications. I was actually surprised to know how many of the little subplots or people involved in the book were inspired by reality. While the book itself was fast paced and very interesting to read, I can’t say I liked reading the POV of a Klan member. But the author does manage to cover up the distaste we might feel at that POV by peppering the book with a lot of popular names of the times - Hollywood superstars and directors, musicians, singers, ballet artists, authors and playwrights - if you know your American movie/artistic history, I think you’ll find all of the references very enjoyable but unfortunately I’m a noob when it comes to this area, and I skipped the names coz they didn’t mean anything to me. 

Maggie remains one of the bravest historical women I’ve read in the past few years and it’s always nice to return to read about her new adventure. I liked that we get to see more sides of her this time - the born American whose relationship with her birth country is troubled because she can’t reconcile the glamour and patriotism with the racism; the woman unsure about meeting the most love of her life; and the British service member who needs to make choices about her future while contemplating the various betrayals by her own superiors. 

However, I’m not sure what I feel about John yet. He seems like a nice guy and does like her a lot, but I can’t make up my mind if he is good enough for Maggie. Sarah as always was a bright spot and I loved her friendship with Henri. The less I talk about the other POVs, the better. I definitely did miss David and the rest of the London gang. 

To conclude, it was nice to be back among familiar characters. The murder mystery itself was pretty interesting but straightforward, and I thought the strength of the book was the vivid setting the author was able to create. The books ends on quite a surprising note and it looks like the proceedings will again move more into the Nazi territory, so I’m quite looking forward to that.
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