Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

A Spy in the House
Author: Y. S. Lee
Series: The Agency
Publication: Candlewick Press; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)

Description: Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners -- and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust -- or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets -- including those of her own past.

My Thoughts: Young Mary Quinn was saved from the gallows and brought to a school where she was taught many things to help her improve her life. Once educated, she was given a chance to belong to the Agency which was organized as a private investigations firm staffed only by women.

Mary's first case puts her in the Thorold household as companion to Angelica Thorold who is the bored daughter of an invalid mother and a businessman father. Mr. Thorold is suspected of smuggling antiquities from the Far East along with his other more legal shipments.

Mary finds that she has entered a house of secrets. While investigating Mr. Thorold's office she encounters James Easton who is also investigating. James and his brother George run an engineering firm. George has decided that he's fallen in love with Angelica and wants to marry her. James wants to make sure the Thorold's business interests won't cause problems.

Mary and James decide to work together since their interests coincide but neither quite trusts the other and James is a typical chauvinist of his age and time. Their investigations take them to warehouses and to a home for aging Chinese sailors among other places. Mary learns something of the past she has been denying.

The story was filled with action and was an interesting historical mystery. I liked the way Mary has to deal with the conventions of the time. I also liked that Mary was smart, daring and resourceful.  I liked the realistic romance that was beginning between James and Mary and how it was resolved.

Favorite Quote:
"Oh, I'll marry eventually," he said calmly. "But when I do, it'll be for the right reasons."

"Which are?"

He waved his had vaguely. "Money. Business contacts. Political connections."

"And in return, your wife would get...?"

His expression suggested that it was an odd question. "A husband, of course."
I bought this one Sept. 16, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

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