Mary Quinn has taken on another case with the Agency, a group of female detectives disguised as an academy for girls. Only this time, Mary not only has to use her wits and acting skills to solve the mystery, but she has to pose as a young boy the entire time.
Mary is set on proving herself capable of being a detective, and a great one at that. When she accepts the mission of solving a murder case, she has no idea how emotional the case will be, as she returns to her past, basically living on the streets and being looked down upon.
As you might know, I was a big fan of Y.S. Lee’s first Agency book, A Spy in the House. Filled with action, intrigue and a touch of romance, the second book in the series does not disappoint.
Unlike the first book, I felt like the case took a while to unfold. There were a lot of characters to follow, and I found myself having to go back and re-read some paragraphs, but each character added a new element and aspect to the mystery and the novel itself. We get to see a different social circle of London, as Mary (or Mark) works at a construction site and lives in a boarding house. This setting introduces a whole new cast of characters.
Brought into the story again is Mary’s semi-love interest James, bringing with him a new set of challenges for Mary and the Agency. The romance is subtle, yet an important part of the novel. While we still see Mary’s independence and strength shine through, the swooning after James is perfect, as she tries so hard to cover it up. While we as the readers can see how perfect they are for each other, it might take a while for this relationship to develop.
During the course of the first book, we were introduced to a bit of Mary’s past, the complications of her former family life and her biracial background. The second book reveals a bit more of Mary’s inner struggles and what she has been through during her short twenty-some-odd years. She faces the challenge of remembering what it was like living on the streets and stealing in order to survive. Y.S. Lee takes us fill circle with her personality, revealing her “weakness” and emotions that she actually does possess. Mary Quinn is a character you can’t help but love. The Body at the Tower only does more to reveal that.
The Agency #2: The Body at the Tower
by Y.S. Lee
Published by Candlewick