Customer Reviews for

A Spy in the House (The Agency Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted June 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Fun Mystery Series

    In A Spy in the House, Lee tells a story filled with mystery, intrigue, and romance. Mary, a girl who was saved from a death sentence, has been educated at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. At the school she's given the education of a wealthy girl, and is encouraged to work in a field she enjoys. The idea of a school that educated girls regardless of their social class, or connections, was an aspect I enjoyed. Not only that, but the school existed to give the women some independence. In a time when the role of women was primarily in the home, it was refreshing to read about a group of women who acknowledged that they deserved more options than being a wife/mistress/governess. It also made me appreciate the educational opportunities that I've been given.

    The writing was another big part of why I enjoyed this book. In my opinion, a good mystery needs an interesting setting, strong characters, and should make you question the motives of those characters. A Spy in the House contained all of these characteristics, and more. The description of Victorian London, made me feel as though I was there, stuck in warm weather made worse by the smell of the polluted Thames. Throughout the book, I also questioned the motives of each character. Each time a new piece of information was discovered by Mary, I attempted to figure out how the story would end. Of course, I was completely wrong.

    I really enjoyed reading about Mary. In the early chapters of the book, the reader finds out why Mary was sentenced to death by hanging. We also see how Mary's education has helped her to grow, and become stronger, and more sure of herself. I particularly liked that she was looking for a work that she found fulfilling. She had attempted many of the jobs that were acceptable for women, but she wanted something more from her work. It takes a lot of courage to go from a job that you know, to something that's completely foreign. Mary was also kind to her young maid, Cass. This was a characteristic that was uncommon in the wealthy women in the book. Cass reminded me a lot of Mary at the start of the book. Cass was a bit unsure of herself, and given the right opportunities, had the potential to be very clever, much like Mary had been.

    There were a few times when I thought that the plot could have moved a bit faster, but aside from that I really enjoyed this book. It's another great 2010 debut, and I look forward to the sequel, The Body at the Tower, which is being released this August.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2014

    Captured

    I thought it was well written and captured me from the beginning and held my interest. Will be reading more of this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014

    will23@gmail.com

    Add me

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    Author Y. S. Lee presents an intriguing idea in her series of my

    Author Y. S. Lee presents an intriguing idea in her series of mystery novels called *The Agency*. The essential gist is that of a specialized private agency that employs women as spies in mid-nineteenth century England. The rationale for the characters is that the heads of the group believe in two truths: that women should have more opportunities than just wife, governess, or poverty; and that women are never taken seriously.

    This two-fold belief leads to the ability to hire out the services of this mysterious group's female agents because no one will bat an eyelash at saying things in front of women that they will say in front of men. Is this sexist? Yes. Is it realistic for the time as well? Also yes.

    The first book, *A Spy in the House* follows a young beginner agent named Mary Quinn. Miss Quinn has escaped a very harsh and tragic life on the streets (and gallows) when the Agency took her in as a student and later teacher. Upon finding out the truth of what the school does, Mary jumps at the opportunity presented to her to become an agent. As she is untested, and a novice agent, her first mission is a simple one: she is to observe what occurs around a family that a senior agent is investigating, and report back any suspicious activities she observes. It is a training mission, really. Nothing more. However, a convergence of factors, including her pride and a new possible ally, lead her to a far more involved role than she, or her superiors at the Agency, were prepared for.

    I really enjoyed this novel for a few reasons. One is that it isn't steampunk, but still dealt with some neat themes. Please do no not misunderstand. I am starting to love steampunk as a genre, but so often the cool stories with strong women characters, chivalrous men, and compelling interpersonal plot lines taking place in the past are steampunk. That this author did so in a very realistic portrayal of 19th century England, is terrific.

    I also appreciated that this wasn't some screed against men, and didn't excuse bad women simply because they were mistreated. It is a work that has both good and bad men and women as characters, and treats them thusly. When a character does something particularly selfish, it isn't just passed off as her being a “strong woman not submitting to a man”, but seen for what it is, bad behavior.

    The research the author put in was obvious, and only served to strengthen the work. In fact, the only real criticism I have is that is still don't understand why the one bad guy didn't put a stop to the other bad guy's plans. Yes, there were legal issues, but nothing that should have made the one just endure it so pathetically. But, in a way, the one bad guy *not* being QUITE as ruthless works to the book's theme. And that's all I'll say about that. Also, the ending was a tad rushed. I really would like some more wrap-up than what this book gave us.

    Other than the above, the work was terrific, very meticulously researched, and well-worth a read.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    First book in female spy series

    'A Spy in the House' is book 1 of The Agency series by Y.S. Lee. Set in London in the summer of the 1850's during The Great Stink, the story features the character of Mary Quill, an orphaned thief saved from the gallows and reeducated at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. Mary spends a short time as a teacher at the school before approaching the two female directors and confessing the job is just not satisfying her. This is where the book becomes a little silly. It seems these two Victorian women are running a secret spy network using female graduates of the school. After a very brief training period (none of which is shared), Mary is posted to a position as a wealthy young woman's companion in order to spy on the household of wealthy merchant Mr. Thorold, who is suspected of smuggling artifacts. Mary finds her patience tested by her charge Angelica Thorold, the scheming and self-centered daughter. During a party Mary manages to sneak away in order to search Mr. Thorold's home office, where she encounters James Easton, a young engineer with his own secrets and reasons for investigating Mr. Thorold. When their mutual investigations continue to collide, the two decide to share information and coordinate their efforts. So the premise of a girl's school being the cover for a ring of female spies is silly, I grant you. If you set that aside the rest of the novel is entertaining and the mystery intriguing. The best part of the book is the witty banter between James and Mary. James constantly seems confounded and confused by Mary. She doesn't conform to his idea of the typical Victorian lady. Not when she runs around town in the dead of night sneaking into warehouses wearing breeches! Their relationship made this book very enjoyable to read and I do hope to read more of James in future books of this series. I didn't foresee the ending at all. It was very nicely plotted. The subplot involving Mary's family history and her connection with Mr. Chen was interesting, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last about Mary's father. Overall I enjoyed the book a lot and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    Interesting

    This author either is Louis Meyer, has read all his books or something. All the characters and plot run very similar to the Bloody Jack books. Im addicted to Bloody Jack so i really like this one.

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    Posted June 29, 2011

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