Monday, March 7, 2011

The Agency: The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee

Now nearly a full-fledged member of the Agency, the all-female detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls, Mary Quinn is back for another action-packed adventure. Disguised as a poor apprentice builder and a boy, she must brave the grimy underbelly of Victorian London - as well as childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want - to unmask the identity of a murderer. Assigned to monitor a building site on the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, Mary earns the confidence of the work crew, inching ever nearer her suspect. But if an irresistible desire to help the city's needy doesn't distract her and jeopardize her cover, unexpectedly meeting up with an old friend - or flame - just might.

A suspenseful and evocative window into a fascinating moment of history, The Body at the Tower is the must anticipated second outing with a daring young detective. (from book jacket)

I was really excited to read The Body at the Tower, which is the sequel to A Spy in the House. In the first novel of the trilogy, the reader is introduced to Mary Quinn, who escapes execution and comes to reside at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. However, Miss Scrimshaw's is merely a cover for a corp of women detectives known as the Agency. When Mary is recruited, she must go undercover as a spy on several dangerous missions, and The Body at the Tower begins on Mary's second mission. As the summary stated, Mary must pretend to be a boy in order to discover a murderer.

I really like it when I start a series where a few books have already been published because that means less waiting time for me. I was glad to jump right into Mary's world again, which is an interesting one at that. First, the novel takes place in Victorian London, a wonderful setting for all sorts of mischief. Second, I love the fact that Mary is a spy and detective, and even though this is unrealistic in some aspects, Y.S. Lee makes a convincing case that there may have just been a few of these brave women running around. Mary is very smart and cunning, which makes her a joy to follow around. She slips up a few times, but she plays a boy well.

Everything is going great, until she runs into the handsome and devilish James Easton again. I was especially glad to see this gentleman, because despite being arrogant at times, he and Mary make a great pair. There is always a lot of chemistry and witty banter between them, and my favorite scenes were always the ones that featured these two characters.

Though The Body at the Tower lagged at times, specifically the funeral of John Wick, who was the victim in this story, most the time there were a lot of twists and turns and clues to be solved. The ending is satisfying, the villain's means and motives made sense and once again Mary Quinn saved the day.

I really enjoyed The Body at the Tower and look forward to more of Mary's escapades, but unfortunately The Traitor and the Tunnel, the last book in the trilogy, will not be published in the US until Spring 2012. Hopefully I will be able to find some other suitable reading material to tide me over until then.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Candlewick Press/337 pages.

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