Monday, October 18, 2010

The Body at the Tower Review (Y.S. Lee)

Synopsis: Mary Quinn is now a trusted member of the Agency - the all-female detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. Her new assignment sends her to the building site of the Houses of Parliament, dressed as a pauper-boy, in order to investigate the mysterious death of one of the workers. Though Mary spent most of her younger years in the guise of a boy, this assignment proves to have its difficulties in maintaining her assumed identity - especially when James Easton reappears as inspector of the site's safety. There are games afoot, and Mary has little time to solve it before another death occurs.

Review: I cannot say how much I love mystery stories set in Victorian England. The Agency series is a bit earlier in the Victorian era than I especially like reading about, but it isn't too early to make me completely disinterested. As usual, Y.S. Lee terrifically captures London's dark, dank streets with her well-researched history and language. Unlike A Spy in the House (Book 1), her visual descriptions do not bring a Reader's mental eye too close for comfort. And also unlike A Spy in the House, the ending was not nearly as cliche and irritating.

But . . . James Easton. I cannot tolerate him, nor the conversations he and Mary have. Their bantering is a little better in this one than in Book 1, but it still exceeds an annoying factor that made my eye twitch, set my teeth on edge, and made me wish that a horse would run over James. His arrogance and womanizing causes his "cheeky" and "shining" grin to be as a mosquito in one's ear. It's not cute; it's just as disgusting and pathetic as those adolescent males who think if they ooze charm, one will forget their lack of honor and instead believe lack thereof to be endearing. I wanted to yell at Mary that she was far more intelligent and sensible than to fall for James's nauseating flirtations. Why - oh why - can authors no longer write leading male characters that are honorable and pleasant to be around?! This seemingly very simple fact made The Body at the Tower a very hard read, and also made it fall short of what it could have been.

Maybe Book 3 will be better?

Overall Rating: JJJ

Other Books in The Agency Series:
1)A Spy in the House
2)The Body at the Tower

3)The Traitor in the Tunnel

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