The Body at the Tower: The Agency #2
by Y. S. Lee
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. (goodreads.com)
My favourite book blogger little sister, Erica from The Book Cellar was wonderful enough to pass me her copy of this ARC from BEA when I expressed my dismay over not having seen it myself. I was so happy since I had been sort of eager to read this series but I was waiting for the pb editions.
I have not read the first book in the series, but I can assure you when it hits the shelves in paperback (and I am able to afford books again) I will be buying it. I honestly loved Mary Quinn. She was smart and witty and didn’t act like a damsel in distress. She had a modern way of going about things and I liked that about her. She had no qualms cutting off her hair to pass as a young boy, she did not get all prissy when alcohol was around. She played the role of a young boy very well.
I would have liked to know more about The Agency itself, but I think that probably was established pretty well in the first book – another reason to pick it up and read it!
When I first saw the books in the store I exclaimed, “Oh, look! A Victorian Nancy Drew!” and I wasn’t far off, except the writing was much more complex than Nancy Drew was. I still loved the mystery solving and trying to figure out why that body fell from the tower!
I have one little qualm about the cover – in a world of white-washing I am happy that the girl on the cover isn’t white bread, but I didn’t actually realize she was supposed to have Asian heritage. The model on the cover looks more Latina or black to me. Maybe it’s just because I am so white I don’t see the right race portrayed, but she reminds me of Rosario Dawson (who apparently has a multi-ethnic heritage per IMDB, though none are Asian ;)). Also, I find the lighting of the face of Mary Quinn makes her look white upon first glance. It’s sort of like they wanted to avoid the white washing accusations but they didn’t want others to dismiss the book because the girl on the cover wasn’t white on first glance. I don’t know. I don’t tend to get involved in these debates, but something about this cover bugs me a little.
Another thing about the cover? I really want that dress. It’s pretty.
One more thing about the cover – I love that the E in Agency is a key. That is so cool. I am completely smitten by simple things like that on covers. I know, simple things for simple minds.
I shall certainly be reading more of this series and from Y. S. Lee – who, excitingly enough is Canadian! That made me so happy when I read the back blurb. I am always so proud and excited when I read a book and discover the author is Canadian or even lives in Canada. Go, Canadian Pride! I am hoping this means that she will have some local bookstore appearances and maybe even make it to the Montreal area. I shall keep an eye out for that!
- A Spy in the House
- The Body at the Tower