Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

The Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication date: March 2010
ISBN: 9780763640675

Source: Library

The Agency 1: A Spy in the House 

Mary, a reformed thief who was saved from the gallows at age 12, has been brought up in a ladies' school.  Little does she know the school also stands as a front for a detective agency, banking on the fact that women are in general ignored and unnoticed.  Mary's first assignment leads her to the house of a suspected smuggler, where she is to safely gather information.  But, she's anxious to do more, and decides to take more risks.  When she is plunged into a deadly web of mystery and danger, she isn't sure who she should trust, even if her heart tells her otherwise.

Things I Liked:

I love a good mystery with a Victorian feel.  The setting and the time period in this book simply glowed!  Not to mention, I really like Mary, a tough heroine who made the transition from street thief to educated woman beautifully.  While the mystery itself is not as amazing as I could have desired, I found myself entranced with Mary, her romantic interest (who may or may not be trustworthy), and the lovely details and unfolding of the story.  Definitely looking forward to more in the series.  Some delights from the book:
The house itself was a tall slice of Georgian wedding cake.  Being so close to the Thames - it was right across the street from the embankment - its whitewashed facade was an uneven gray, frescoed with lumps of bird guano and soot. p 30
Sunlight glowed round the edges of the curtains.  Mary lifted one eyelid. Why did she feel so...?  Even before she could frame the question, the events of yesterday came back. They didn't rush or ebb so much as cudgel her brain." p 241
Things I Didn't Like:
As I noted above, the mystery was not that amazing.  But, I really loved pretty much everything else, so it didn't bother me much.

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

s-factor: !
a few here and there

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some minor incidents

Overall rating: ****

So, I'm fairly new to the mystery-historical fiction combo, but I'd love more suggestions!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Several people have recommended this to me lately. I requested it at the library and I think I'm 10th in line. :) If it reads like THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE, then I think I'll like it.

  2. This sounds really, really good. I've got Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin checked out from the library which is supposed to be a historical mystery. Not sure if it is good though as I haven't had the chance to read it yet :)

  3. Angie, yes I think it just might be something you'd like!

    samantha, hm...maybe I'll wait for your review before I pick it up.

  4. Mistress of the Art of Death is "older" in terms of setting than Victorian and it's fairly dark, but I liked it.

    I've been wanting to read this one. Love a good mystery series!

    Melissa, have I told you how much I LOVE your review format?! I really really love it.

  5. Ah, Britt, you are making me blush. :) Sometimes I start to loathe it, since I do the same thing over and over. I'm glad to know someone else likes it!

  6. lol
    Sometimes I'm sick of my reviews too. Not that I have much of a set format. :)

  7. Maybe I should try a bit of a non-set format and then I'll come back loving my format...


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