Monday, August 20, 2018

Book Review: Rivals in the City by Y. S. Lee

Rivals in the City
Author: Y. S. Lee
Series: The Agency (Book 4)
Publication: Candlewick Press (March 10, 2015)

Description: In a tale steeped in action, romance, and the gaslit intrigue of Victorian London, Mary Quinn’s detective skills are pitted against a cunning and desperate opponent.

Mary Quinn has a lot on her mind. James Easton, her longtime love interest, wants to marry her; but despite her feelings, independent-minded Mary hesitates. Meanwhile, the Agency has asked Mary to take on a dangerous case: convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and Mary must watch for the return of his estranged wife, an accomplished criminal herself who has a potentially deadly grudge against James. Finally, a Chinese prizefighter has arrived in town, and Mary can’t shake a feeling that he is somehow familiar. With the stakes higher than ever, can Mary balance family secrets, conflicting loyalties, and professional expertise to bring a criminal to justice and find her own happiness?

My Thoughts: Nine months have passed since the conclusion of Mary Quinn's last case and things have changed. The Agency's two main leaders have split up because of their differing goals for the future of the Agency. Mary and James have formed their own private inquiry agency. Mary has gained an independent income which has allowed her to set up her own home. James and Mary are contemplating marriage but Mary has worries about losing her new found independence.

When Miss Treleaven, the Agency leader who wants to continue the Agency as it was, comes to Mary to ask her to take a case, Mary is intrigued. It seems that Mrs. Thorold who was the villain of Mary's first case has decided to return to England with another crime in mind. Her husband who was imprisoned after his part in that case, is dying and it is thought that Mrs. Thorold will come to see him. It is known that Angelica Thorold is on her way from Vienna to visit her father.

Mary is tasked with befriending Angelica in the hops that she will lead them to her mother. With Mrs. Thorold potentially arriving in England and having a major grudge against James, James and Mary decide that they need to hide their relationship both personal and professional for both their safety.

While Mary is doing her investigation, James has received a commission to redo the vaults under the Bank of England. But James is assaulted and his offices are broken into leading to the theft of the prints of the vaults. Fearing that it is part of Mrs. Thorold's scheme, forces are gathered to move the gold stored there to keep it out of the hands of thieves.

Meanwhile, Mary meets a cousin of hers who has come from China and who tells her more of her father's story. I liked Lang and thought it was interesting that he was making his living as a pugilist who won his victories using his oriental fighting techniques.

The story brings Mary's career in the Agency in a full circle and makes a nice conclusion to this series. It is packed with action. It also illuminates the role of women in Victorian society and the treatment of anyone not English at the time.

Favorite Quote:
"It sounds terribly appealing, when you put it that way," said Mary, "but I'm afraid I'm still rather partial to you."

"Partial!" He feigned a wounded look. "One is partial to jam, or to three-volume novels."

"Fond?" She offered with a smile.

"Of a puppy, or a distant uncle."

"All right." Mary swung around to face him, taking both his hand and halting him midstep. "James Easton, I am fervently, passionately, utterly, scandalously in love with you."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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