The Agency: The Body at The Tower
Y. S. Lee
August 10th 2010
This is another colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. At a young age, Mary Quinn is rescued from the gallows and taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. The school turns out to be a front for a private detective agency. At age 17, Mary takes on her first case (A Spy in the House). In this, the second book of the series, Mary Quinn sets out to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death at St. Stephen's Tower, better known as the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The accident occurred after hours in a highly public part of town and despite the presence of night watchmen. Mary, disguised as Mark Quinn, becomes a builder's assistant to find out the truth about the body at the tower.
Guys. GUYS. I love these books. Honestly, I do. I mean, there's only 3 of them, and I've only read 2 of them, but they are GOOD. I've been on a bit of a historical craze lately, and I kind of saw that as an excuse for buying this book, and I'm glad I did! It was just as good as the first one, with more angst and romantic tension and Victorian goodness that everyone can appreciate. Unless you have some kind of ungodly hatred for the Victorians in which case who are you and why are you here? (Just kidding, I love you even if we have differing tastes on the awesomeness of various historical periods) Where was I again...?
The Victorian settings of these books are always so well done and described, and it's obvious she knows her stuff. I love getting engulfed in the time, and also that she refers to things like the smell of the Thames and just little details. I just really, really love accurate historicals. It makes my history geek self very, very happy, because it means I can read Historical fiction and pretend it counts towards like, education and stuff. Then again, I also counted seeing Captain America as homework for Nazi Germany. Hm.
My goodness, Mary Quinn is possibly one of my favourite heroines. And I know I say that about pretty much every heroine ever, but I am seriously serious about this. For a Victorian lady, she's pretty darn strong. And not-fainty. Also, she was a boy for most of the book. But I love her because she doesn't get all putty-kneed at James Easton, and because she can hold her own in a group of builders and lads lads. Yeah. She's pretty great.
And James Easton! Gosh, I love him! He's hardly a perfect gentlemen when around Mary, but their conversation is stellar and even if they don't get along all the time the tension between them is practically leaping off of the pages (cliché, but SO TRUE). I also love that he has this respect for Mary that most men in those times just wouldn't have, and I really hope that one day he'll find out about the Agency so that they can just get together without all the secrets already.
I think I enjoyed the mystery of the first book more, as this book had lot more of her coming to terms with her identity and her fears and prospective relationships and her as a person, as much as it is about the mystery. I guess it kind of felt like it took a back seat, but that's not a criticism because I really enjoyed getting to see different sides of Mary.
All in all, a great addition to what is becoming one of my favourite series's , and I wholly encourage you to start reading these books! I really must get my hands on the third now!