Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee YP FIC LEE

Mary Quinn was a 12 year old pickpocket sentenced to die by hanging (England in the 1800s was STRICT!), but is given a last minute reprieve and sent to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. There she learns to be a proper lady and eventually is hired as a teacher at 17. The life of a teacher bores her, but adventure finds her when she is chosen to join a secret spy society that works through the school calling themselves the Academy. Her first mission is to solve the mystery of missing cargos ships by pretending to be a lady’s companion in a wealthy merchant’s home. Soon the mystery deepens and Mary must face serious peril to uncover the truth, uncover a murder, and discover secrets of her own past.

First impression: It’s like a Jane Austen murder/spy mystery! This turns out to be a very good thing. Mary is a wonderful character; she is resourceful, bright, and tough without seeming entirely out of place with her time. The mystery has plenty of twist, but at times seemed a bit dry. Fortunately the romantic subplot is very well done and reminded me of the previously mentioned Jane Austen. I would say it is a good read for mystery fans, but mainly for fans of character driven mystery books. It is also a great read for historical fiction fans because the author has impeccably recreated Victorian, London with both high and low society represented. So if you are looking for some romance, danger, and intrigue this is your book.

Personal Beef: The cover! Why does it have “The Agency” in much larger print than the book’s actual title A Spy in the House? And it also has “A Mary Quinn Mystery” up top! Which is the title of the series “The Agency” or “Mary Quinn Mysteries”? Maybe I’m just easily confused, but I had to look up what the real title was.

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