MYSTERY

Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Bantam. Apr. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9780553593617. pap. $15. M
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OrangeReviewStarBritish-born but American-raised Maggie Hope, a math whiz with an MIT graduate school offer on hold, went to London to sell her late grandmother's home. Now it's 1940, and she is passionate about staying to help with her birth country's war effort. As a secretary for the prime minister's office, she is privy to Winston Churchill's inner thoughts. But unbeknownst to Maggie, a mole is working nearby, burrowing deep inside 10 Downing Street and making plans to cripple England's leadership. Already, one secretary has died at the hands of IRA activists colluding with the Nazis, but Maggie's shocking discoveries about her own family further threaten national security.
VERDICT Watch out for the smart girl who can crack codes with her slide rule. The appeal of real-life characters populating the story works well in this solid historical cozy debut. MacNeal squeezes in plenty of World War II facts but never slows the pace. I like pairing this with Maureen Jennings's Season of Darkness and Sarah R. Shaber's Louise's War.

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