A Spy in the House: The Agency #1
Y. S. Lee
Candlewick, 2010 (2010)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
aved from the gallows (to which the twelve-year-old was sentenced for housebreaking in 1853 London), Mary Lang is offered a place at
Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls
and becomes Mary Quinn. The school was founded by a wealthy woman to help others of her own sex '
achieve a measure of independence.
' A few select students (a seventeen-year-old Mary included) are offered the opportunity to join
, which uses talented young women (invisible to society in roles as meek governesses or domestic servants) as investigators. Mary is excited about the opportunity but keeps a secret of her own.
ary Quinn's first field job is as a lady's companion to spoiled, selfish Angelica Thorold, whose wealthy merchant father, Henry Thorold, is suspected of financial crimes and also of smuggling artifacts, stolen from Hindu temples during the Indian Mutiny. When Mary does a bit of digging through her employer's office during a party, and is forced to hide in a cupboard, she discovers that someone else is investigating the family. Though at first, Mary and young engineer James Easton are at cross purposes (he suspects her of being Henry's mistress and she punches him on the nose) they eventually join forces and share (most of) their findings.
uspects range from Henry himself to his secretary Michael Gray who meets often with Angelica. And Mary wonders about the ailing Mrs Thorold's weekly medical appointments, as most society doctors make house calls - could the seemingly frail matron be having an affair? The trail leads Mary and James to
The Imperial Baptist East London Refuge for Destitute Asiatic Sailors
, where Mary learns of missing cargo ships, '
' and insurance fraud. A window opens into her own past, but then closes again in a deadly fire. There are murders and great peril for the investigative duo before the case is closed.
Spy in the House
makes an engaging beginning to this new
series, with its rich setting in Victorian London. I look forward to sharing further adventures - and learning more of Mary's own history - in the second Mary Quinn mystery,
The Body at the Tower
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.
Find more Teens books on our
or in our book