In this fourth entry in the Maggie Hope mystery series, we find cryptoanalyst Maggie at Arisaig House, in Scotland, working as a trainer for her fellow agents. She is suffering from what we now recognize as PTSD as a result of her time in Berlin (ref. "His Majesty's Hope," the previous novel). Her early-morning wanderings provide the first clue about what's happening around her when she sees a dead sheep covered in unusual blisters in the loch; not all is normal in the Highlands.
In the mean while, Maggie's mother, the Nazi spy Clara Hess, is being held in London pending execution ... and is showing signs of multiple personality disorder ... or is she? Not even her doctor can say for sure whether the professional actress is pretending or it's the real thing.
And for the other major plot point, we have the Japanese planning their attack on Pearl Harbor, with glimpses into the diplomatic process and some speculation as to how it failed.
The series is peopled with characters both fictional and non-fictional (then-SOE agent Ian Fleming, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, just to name two), and keeps the reader's attention. Whether it's a death at a performance of the Vic-Wells ballet (at which point Maggie's knowledge of the rather obscure science/tradition of floriography comes into play), or the blithe lifestyle of the commanders at Pearl Harbor, there is always something to keep the plot moving at a good pace as well.
Author Susan Elia MacNeal has created a family of delightful characters to care about, and puts them in plots that keep us turning pages well into the night. I can't wait for the next one.