Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Review: The Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee

The Body at the Tower
Author: Y. S. Lee
Series: The Agency (Book 2)
Publication: Candlewick Press (February 28, 2012)

Description: Mary’s second adventure as an undercover agent forces her to relive some harrowing childhood experiences as she seeks the identity of a murderer. 

Mary Quinn is back, now a trusted member of the Agency, the allfemale detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. Her new assignment sends her into the grimy underbelly of Victorian London dressed as a poor boy, evoking her own childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want. As she insinuates herself into the confidence of several persons of interest, she encounters others in desperate situations and struggles to make a difference without exposing --or losing --her identity. Mary’s adventure, which takes place on the building site of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, offers a fictional window into a fascinating historical time and place.

My Thoughts: Mary Quinn has a new case. This time she needs to masquerade as a boy and get a job at a construction site to investigate the death of a worker. Her employers are branching out from their usual sorts of cases and are arguing about it which creates tension for Mary. Mary also has to deal with some trauma of her own. After a childhood as a thief who often dressed as a boy to avoid rape, this disguise is bringing back memories that she hadn't wanted to relive.

Mary also has to deal with more recent memories when James Eaton is hired to do a safety inspection of the site. After the end of her previous case, James was off to India and she thought she'd never see him again. He has returned from India sick with the aftereffects of malaria but recognizes Mary in a glance. She still hasn't told him she works for the Agency so spends a lot of time lying to him.

The death investigation is only the tip of the iceberg of wrongdoing at the site. Mary quickly finds herself involved investigating theft and blackmail.

This was an enjoyable story. I liked the world building which shows an England with dirt and poverty and uncaring rich people. I also liked that Mary was realistic about her fear and her need to hide her mixed heritage. Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this series.

Favorite Quote:
"There's no need to be theoretical about this. The difficulty is what it is."

"And you are what you are."

"Pray tell," he drawled, coldly angry now.

"Arrogant, high-handed, and controlling."

"Rather that than arrogant, impulsive, and irresponsible."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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