Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House (The Agency, book 1) by Y.S. Lee.

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.

A strong female sleuth and an intriguing mystery.  A Spy in the House is a fabulous mystery set in Victorian London.  This story begins with young Mary about to face the gallows for thievery.  In a fabulous twist of fate, Mary is whisked away to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls where her adept mind and independent streak are cultivated.  When, at the age of seventeen, Mary makes an inquiry to the headmistress about her future prospects she learns a dangerous yet exciting secret.  There is a secret organization, The Agency, hidden within Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls.  Women are often overlooked in Victorian society and The Agency has found this to their advantage.  The Agency is in need of young women with Mary's skills and disposition and she is readily employed as a spy, but will Mary be able to keep her temper and stubborn streak in check?  Will she remain undetected long enough to survive her first mission?  An amazing beginning to an exciting mystery series.  Mary is my favorite kind of heroine.  I loved this book so much I immediately ordered The Body at the Tower, the next book in the series, for myself and gifted both books in the series to family and friends.

I recommend A Spy in the House (The Agency, book 1) to readers of mystery, suspense, romance, young adult, and especially to fans of historical mysteries with a strong female heroine. Fans of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, the Study series by Maria V. Snyder, and the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King will love The Agency series by Y.S. Lee.

Source: This book was purchased by me for review.

A Spy in the House on Amazon.
A Spy in the House on Goodreads.


  1. This book sounds really interesting. I love the angle of women detectives in the 1850s.

  2. This book sounds like a real pageturner! Great to have smart women figuring things out!


  3. I have this out of the library--now I really want to get around to reading it! Thanks for the review.

  4. I like going back into a different time era and love women detectives. Know I would love this book.