Published: March 2010
Copy provided by: Library
Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.
I was really excited to read this story because I had seen previous reviews around the Blogosphere. Imagine a Victorian Nancy Drew! The novel started out strong and I enjoyed how they 'planted' the spy in the house and the premise behind it. Women detectives during this age were unheard of and could easily take on casual jobs in the household to overhear conversations and do some sleuthing without being noticed. The relationships within the household and the company were interesting as well but there were a few that seemed unneccessary. Of course I was always rooting for the main character to develop something with the leading man. Isn't it always like that? You'll just have to read to find out what happens!
To be honest, I did find that the story waned a little in the middle. I stuck it out and things picked up at the end but it just didn't develop the way I was hoping. Maybe my expectations were too high for this book. Overall, I still enjoyed it but I wouldn't rush out to purchase the title just yet. There was good character developement for Mary Quinn, the main character in the series. A second book - Body in the Tower has been published and I do intend on reading it. Hopefully more will develop with Mary discovering her roots and background. I'm expecting that by the 2nd book the author has found her groove and has paced the story a bit better. If that one meets my expectations, perhaps it will be a purchase for me in 2011.
Interestingly, Y.S. Lee was born in Singapore and raised in Canada. She currently lives in Ontario. Yet another Canuck author! Interested in learning more about this author? Check out her website!