Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain's beloved royals against an international plot - one that could change the course of history.
As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous - and deadly - than Maggie ever expected.
The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.
©2012 Susan Elia Macneal (P)2012 Random House Audio
I loved the first book and the narrator was fantastic. I should have taken a closer look at the reviews and just bought the second book instead of buying the audiobook. I am having a difficult time not being overwhelmingly distracted by Susan Duerden's manner of speaking. While I was listening to this audiobook, my 12 year old daughter walked in the house with no prior knowledge of this book or my opinion of the narrator and said "What's wrong with her voice? Why is she talking like that?" Wanda McCaddon, the narrator of the first book, does a terrific job of bringing Maggie Hope into my living room. The version of Maggie Hope I discovered in Book 2 seemed flighty, breathless, insecure, and overly "girlish." I don't believe that Maggie actually changed between Books 1 and 2, but it did illustrate to me how very different a character might seem depending on the narrator.
I got this book because I very much enjoyed the first Maggie Hope mystery. As far as I can tell, this story is similarly good, but the narrator's intonations make it difficult to lose oneself in the story. The timbre of the voice is fine. However, every. single. sentence. is spoken with the same intonation: a rising inflection near the end, leaving the listener with the feeling the phrase is unfinished. There is some variation in tones when the characters are speaking, but other than that the inflections are regrettably unvaried. Unfortunately I already purchased the third Maggie Hope mystery read by this narrator, but I will be avoiding her in the future.
A different reader?
I enjoyed the first one I listened to. I will just find a hard copy and enjoy that.
to me the reader tried to make ever line suspense filled...tiresome.
As i mentioned I could not continue listening.
In all the years i have been an audible listener this is only the second book I could not listen to.
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Whoever Susan Duerden is, she has no future as a book narrator - she reads in a monotonous and twee fashion that is more suitable to announcing the bus schedules for British Rail than reading a fast-paced and well plotted book.
I really enjoy the 1920s-30s-40s female-centric mysteries (Maisie Dobbs; Lady Georgiana etc.) (that all seem to be written by American women BTW) and quite enjoyed the first book of the Maggie Hope series, read by a different narrator, so was looking forward to the next book. That narrator wasn`t wonderful but she wasn`t completely horrible.
Unfortunately, despite it being a good read, full of bright characters and strong plot, the narration put me off so thoroughly that I abandoned listening to it and checked the book out of the library.
I was so excited to get the second installment in this series. And then...the narrator. I took me a few chapters to pinpoint what was bothering me about her and then I realized: It's as if she's reading the news. The odd phrasing, the overdone dramatic pitch of her voice.
A different reader would have made a big difference... this reader has an annoying habit of ending every sentence the same way; as if she questioning it.
Her speech pattern is really annoying; I tried really hard to get past it, but I never got past Chapter 6, and it was hard to listen to it that long.
I like the characters, the plot was good, and I was looking forward to what Maggie would find out about her parents. The plot twist at the end is a great lead-in to Book 3, but now I am afraid to invest in another book that might have such an annoying reader.
I held out as far as Chapter 6, then I gave up and bought the book. I really enjoyed the book, but I listen as I work, so I wasn't able to hear the story. Very disappointing.
Haven't read the print version, so I couldn't say whether the audio version is better. I like to listen to books during my commute, and the books I buy to listen to are very different from the ebooks I chose to read. I like to listen to books that have an historical context and describe the surroundings in detail. The Maggie Hope series keeps me entertained during rush hour driving. Never mind a long commute if I'm listening to a good book.
I love books set in a different time period. I like getting a feel for how it was 'back then'.
Really disliked the way Susan Duerden reads the narrative. It's the same cadence for every sentence. Each sentence ends on the same note. It is so annoying that once during a long narrative, I had to shut it off. Does a great job on the voices, however. You can always tell when it's a different person talking.
Can't say that I was moved, but at times I was annoyed by the main character's behavior. She's supposed to be a spy, but has very volatile outburst to her handler and boss. Rather than using a logical argument, she's screaming and having a tantrum. Is that supposed to be an 'American' trait? British reserve seems to have gone missing.
No spoilers from me! Sexy, romantic stories, thrillers, mystery, relationship stories.. my library is a crazy mix.
This book will go down as a disappointment for me. The reader is annoying; it seems to me that the production manager should have caught her repetitive cadence and made corrections. Instead, it was difficult to listen to and the storyline was a bit too fantastical.
I am a fan of the English mystery and WWII facts did give descriptive tidbits that gave me something to sink my teeth into - so to speak.
Not enough tidbits, however, to save this story, which will be my last in this series and my last book narrated by Ms. Duerden.
I enjoyed the first book of the series and looked forward to the second. But I found the narrator's exaggerated accents extremely annoying. Her German officers sounded like caricatures from Hogan's Heroes. I could not get past the first chapter and have asked for a refund which I have only done once before. Disappointing. Guess I'll have to buy the book.
I can't tell if this is a fun book or not because Susan Duerden completely ruined the story. She sounds like Robin Leach on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." She deserves a special hell all her own for wrecking my day at work.
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