The Agency 1: A Spy In The House

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The Agency 1: A Spy In The House

by Y.s. Lee

Candlewick Press | February 8, 2011 | Trade Paperback

The Agency 1: A Spy In The House is rated 4.5556 out of 5 by 9.
Introducing an exciting new series! 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.26 × 5.6 × 0.96 in

Published: February 8, 2011

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 076365289X

ISBN - 13: 9780763652890

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique! I really enjoyed this book! It was mysterious, fast paced and had great characters that made for an interesting and unique story. I admire the character of Mary Quinn; she's a smart, brave and stubborn young girl who will do just about anything in her power to uncover the true mystery behind the Thorold household. Overall, this book was very well written and I will definitely be reading the next two books in the series! P.S. James Easton sounds like a complete stud and if I was Mary, I would be all over that ;)
Date published: 2012-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best Historical I have read! =D The Agency series is among my favorite mystery books. Y.S. Lee makes a brilliant job narrating the story of Mary Quinn, a half Asian half British orphan girl who becomes a spy. Yes, a female spy in the 19th century. I am a huge fan of Victorian era and this book just did it for me. I have read a bunch of historical book always expecting to be transported back in time, but just a few of them have given me such satisfaction. This one is one of them! I love everything about this book. I love that is narrated from a third person POV, so we can know what's going on with Mary Quinn as well as James Easton. Ooooh James Easton, I can't drool enough for you! all dressed in those Victorian costumes uuuuuuuh! Anyways, the point is, that this book have a great plot! The fact that the spy in this story is a girl, makes this book very rich. Mary Quinn have, in fact, to pretend to be a lady's companion while, in reality, she is risking her skin by snooping around places no man would think she should be, given she is supposed to be a lady (just good enough to serve tea) and never EVER walk around on trousers and boots. That is one of the aspects I love about this book; The collision of of feminism against men. In other words, a female badass character against a I-am-the-man-here-you-seat-down-and-feed-the-kids world. There is a lot of chivalry too, but a female spy?... well, that's morecomplicated. I think A Spy in the House was an amazing read. Y.S. Lee didn't only transport my mind back to the 1850s in London, she transported all of my senses too. While reading The Agency, I could smell the stink of the Thames, hear the carriages, the horses loudly pawing against the ground and London's fogy wetness on my cheeks. The Body at the Tower (Agency #2) A great story not to be missed. Historical, mystery, adventure and romance fans (pretty much everyone) will enjoy this as much as I did. Don't miss the sequel The Body at the Tower (now in Paperback!). I already read the second book and let me tell you, you'll be craving for more!
Date published: 2011-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! OMG!! When I first looked upon the cover of this book, I thought it looked intresting but what I didn't know was that the story was even better than the cover. I love books about mystery but this book is way more than any other book. I say move over authors, Y.S. Lee is BIG competition for you all, I absoulutely loved it and can't wait to read the rest of these books!!!AMAZING........THAT IS THE ONLY WORD THAT CAN DESCRIBE THE DETAILED PLAOT AND CHARACTER SKETCHES AND OTHER PARTS TO THIS MARVALOUS STORY.
Date published: 2011-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dreaming of Books Review What I liked about this book was that the story didn’t have any of the fancy dressings. Unlike some of the historical YA that I’ve read recently there’s no vampires or warewolves. No fancy steampunk weaponry or gadgets involved. It’s a Victorian mystery with an extremely likeable heroine. Mary is on her first assignment for the Agency and is sent to the Thorold household as a lady’s companion. Her job is only to observe and listen but when nothing she sees seems relevant to the case decides to take matters into her own hands. This being Mary’s first assignment one would assume she would take it easy and be extremely cautious but she’s a go-getter and takes her job very seriously. The mystery and Mary’s detective work was slow at times but no matter how hard I still wasn’t sure who was behind the missing cargo ships. So many of the characters seemed suspicious and had secrets of their own. And I was truly surprised to find out who the real culprit turned out to be. There’s also a bit of romance between Mary and James Easton, a gentlemen whom she meets at the Thorold household and they end up helping each other in their investigation of the Thorolds. I really like romance in a story and the fact that there’s still a lingering romantic feelings between the two gives me hope that this relationship might be revisited later on in the series.
Date published: 2010-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mystery and Intrigue! I'll admit, I don't read enough YA novels in the historical genre, so I was pretty excited when I set my eyes on A Spy in the House. I mean, a teenage girl living in Victorian England who works for an agency to investigate crimes... doesn't that sound just so cool? Mary Quinn was sentenced to the gallows at the age of twelve for being the thief, but was saved and given a new chance for life as a student at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. A few years later, Mary has come a long way and is about to undertake her first assignment for the Agency. Her goal: She will become the lady companion of Angelica Thorold in order to learn if her father's merchant business has been having illegal dealings in his shipments. Mary will have to keep her wits in order to hide her true identity... but it would seem she's not the only one hiding something. Appearances can be deceiving and there are members of the Thorold household with their own secrets. The setting is perfectly described in A Spy in the House, with wonderful descriptions and dialogue that make it oh so easy to lose yourself in Victorian England. And, of course, it wouldn't be a good historical novel if there weren't some scandalous events just waiting in the background to occur. Mary Quinn is a strong heroine who definitely knows how to take care of herself. Independent, smart... she's also not too afraid to break rules of social etiquette if need be. Throughout the novel, Mary also grows as a person, learning a few things about her past that I can't wait to see explored in the next novel. James Easten. Isn't that just a name that rolls so nicely off the tongue? James is also investigating the Thorold household, for his own reasons, when he meets Mary and immediately finds himself drawn to her. The constant bantering between him and Mary were some of my favourite parts to read in the novel! Mystery, intrigue and a dash of romance, A Spy in the House has just the right amount of elements to keep your eyes wide as Mary tries to learn the truth about the Thorold's. The second novel in the series, The Body at the Tower, is now out in stores. You can also check out the review at: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.com/2010/08/agency-1-spy-in-house-by-ys-lee.html
Date published: 2010-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lived up to every Expectation! You certainly wouldn't expect a young Victorian street-thief to become a spy, would you? When Mary Quinn is sentenced to death by hanging, the last thing she ever expected would be being taken and given a proper education and a chance to become a spy in the most secret (and all female) society in London. This book is exceptionally well-written and plunges the reader into Mary's world of mystery, self-discovery and danger. I would highly recommend this book, and I personally cannot wait to read the next installment! If you like mystery, Victorian London, a strong heroine, or even just a story with a sense of danger, this book is definitely worth looking at!
Date published: 2010-08-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting, different A fun idea, but with realistic/interesting perspective of women and girls' lives in Victorian London. A good book for a teen who likes history, or strong female heroes. A less trashy "Luxe."
Date published: 2010-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Mystery must read!! Where to start where to start. I have to admit when I got this book I was very unsure about it and the genre. I went in with a closed mind on the topic, but I have to say Y.S. Lee captivated me from the first chapter to the end. This book was not what I expected, it was three times better. I adore Mary's character, everything about her she's so interesting, I think it could be all the mystery to her. All characters had there mystery to them which intrigued me a lot, it also helped to real me in. I love how the book was set in 1800s adds a nice flare to the book, it was also a nice change for me as well (there were parts when I was hoping she would pull out a cellphone, then I realized she was hailing a cab that was horse drawn). The storyline just kept giving, from beginning til-end this storyline did not have a dull moment, it did have quite time, but so worth the wait. The only thing I didn't like out of the whole book was the last two pages (read it and see why) other than that awesome. Transition I thought I had seen some good transition, but Y.S. Lee brought the standard to an all-time high. They were awesome I knew exactly whose Point of View (POV) it was, there was no second guessing, the whole story had a nice flow. This book has some parts where you're like it was Mr. Green in the Pantry with the rope (CLUE anyone) and the "Sherlock Holmes." Oh random, but I love the random mentions of the fashion it the era like the big dresses with crinoline, mustered colored dress, and boots with the buttons up the leg I loved it. Speaking of the Victorian Era loved how Y.S. Lee stuck to it nothing out of the ordinary, except the random modern touches here and there, but nothing to the extreme. I love the romance in the book awesome and subtle, and my fiction crush in this book has to be James without a doubt, favorite character has to be Guigley. This book honestly is a must read especially if you are into the whole Victorian Era, or Mystery. Don't you love the cover. OK stop me now I could keep going about the love I have for this book.
Date published: 2010-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling Victorian Mystery Debut Reason for Reading: Victorian crime is one of my special reading interests whether it be true crime or mystery fiction. The summary of this book had me hooked and I knew I must read it. Summary: Orphan Mary Quinn is rescued from the gallows as a thief and taken into a special girl's school where she is educated and later becomes a teacher. When the time is right her benefactors introduce her to the secret underground world of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. It is from here that The Agency, a secret group of elite female spies with a high reputation, work for clients of high esteem including the government and Scotland Yard itself. Of course, no one knows that the agents behind The Agency are women but that is their secret weapon of success. Seventeen-year-old Mary is sent undercover as a 20 year-old lady's companion to a spoilt, rich, young woman where Mary is to observe the household looking for information to help Scotland Yard arrest the father of smuggling and insurance fraud. Comments: I'll start with the basics. Fabulous book! Much, much more than I had expected. Ms. Lee has hit the scene as a Canadian YA author full force with one of the best books I've read this year so far. The author has managed to keep the book squarely grounded in the Victorian era without any hint of modernizing her characters. She has really picked the perfect situation to place her heroine in. As a lower class pickpocket thief, schooled and trained to be a lady, going undercover in various roles, Mary can act the part society demands of Victorian women but can also be who she likes in private due to her past. Mary is a very feisty character with lots of spunk who is a self-starter and needs no hand holding. This can lead to getting herself in trouble but Mary is quite adept at talking her way out of an unplanned situation. The writing is very well done. As I've said, the book keeps to the Victorian era. It also flows well and has a plot that slowly gathers steam and it comes rushing to its final conclusion. Enough clues are given to help the reader figure out what is going on and what the secrets are but there are so many of them that it would be hard put to figure out every secret that is revealed. The book is recommended for ages 12 and up and I'm a little on the fence about that. There is nothing objectionable in the book at all, but there is talk of adultery, pregnant maids being sent off, prostitution, that sort of thing. So depending on the child you may want to wait till 13/14. Plus the main character is 17yo and since she is playing a 20yo it is often easy to forget that she is a teen. I have absolutely no qualms with recommending this book to adult mystery readers who like clean cozy mysteries. The writing is never once written down to its teen audience. It is a tight, solid, well paced mystery with a bit of a burgeoning love interest that adds some humour. Another great aspect of the story is the contrast between the rich ship merchant's home and family and the squalor of the London they are living in. This is at the time of the "Great Stink" in London when the Thames river smelt noxious because of the untreated sewage and carcasses that had been emptied into it for years and the unusually hot summer that year. We also see the working conditions of the servants in that merchant's home and are taken to the dark corners of London to a home for old Asian seamen. A thrilling read, great mystery, wonderful characters, authentic historical setting with plenty of humour and a tad of love. Y.S. Lee's first novel, and first in this trilogy, is a big winner and I can't wait to see where Mary's next case will take her.
Date published: 2010-03-01

– More About This Product –

The Agency 1: A Spy In The House

by Y.s. Lee

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8.26 × 5.6 × 0.96 in

Published: February 8, 2011

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 076365289X

ISBN - 13: 9780763652890

About the Book

Packed with action and suspense 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.

From the Publisher

Introducing an exciting new series! 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Y. S. Lee has a PhD in Victorian literature and culture and says her research inspired her to write A SPY IN THE HOUSE, "a totally unrealistic, completely fictitious antidote to the fate that would otherwise swallow a girl like Mary Quinn." Y. S. Lee lives in Ontario, Canada.


From the Hardcover edition.

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

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