Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: The Body At The Tower 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.

*Copy provided for the Traveling to Teens Tour

Mary Quinn is back and better than ever! I read A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) in early June, and I loved it. So, I jumped at the chance to be part of the tour for the second book in the series. I wasn't disappointed.

In my review of A Spy in the House, I mentioned how much I loved Mary's character. When I finished it, however, the only thing I wanted to see in the future was more information about Mary's past. In The Body at the Tower, I was glad to see that Lee gave us more glimpses of Mary's past. She's a strong female character, but her weakness lies in her struggle with her heritage. It's because of this struggle that she faces quite a challenge in The Body at the Tower. Not only is she trying to solve a murder, she's forced to confront her past by returning to a life of hunger, and uncomfortable living (although, it's a step up from when she was on the street). Mary has also retained her kind nature in this book. She attempts to help Jenkins, a boy working at the building site, who is very much like she was as a child. From a psychological perspective, I found this plot point particularly fascinating.

What's great about this series are, in part, the mysteries. One of the things that Lee does extremely well is to create a mystery that can hold the reader's attention. While I love mysteries, I've found that in many books of the genre, the plot tends to slow down toward the middle. I personally want a mystery that I won't want to put down. In The Body at the Tower, any scenes that lacked action were filled with new information about the characters.

There is also a budding romance in this tale of intrigue. Mary and James first meet in A Spy in the House, and are reunited in the sequel. I find them to be a great pairing, and think that their relationship adds a new element to the story. James is a bit headstrong, and in her own way, so is Mary. Their interactions display this stubbornness, and their scenes together were a lot of fun to read. I'm looking forward to watching their relationship develop further in future books.

It's another strong book from Lee, and I am happy to say that it surpassed my high expectations. Now I just need the patience to wait for the third book in the series, The Traitor and the Tunnel.

The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2)
By Y.S. Lee
Published by Candlewick Press
352 Pages
Rating: A


Sara said...

I LOVE this book! TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL won't be released until 2012... I have a feeling I'll be rereading the first two before then!

I love Mary and James' relationship! He MUST be in the next book!

Tales of Whimsy said...

I can't wait to try this series :) Great review!

Emma said...

Awesome review! I have been lusting after this series this I first saw it.

Bookish in a Box said...

This is one of my most anticipated sequels. I'm so glad you liked it!

Nat said...

This one sounds really good---thanks for the review!

Nina said...

Great review. I was really looking forward hearing your thoughts on this book, and now I am convinced I need to read the first one. :)

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