The Agency 2: The Body At The Tower

Hardcover | August 22, 2013

byYs Lee

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Mary’s second adventure as an undercover agent forces her to relive some harrowing childhood experiences as she seeks the identity of a murderer.

Mary Quinn is back, 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 into the grimy underbelly of Victorian London dressed as a poor boy, evoking her own childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want. As she insinuates herself into the confidence of several persons of interest, she encounters others in desperate situations and struggles to make a difference without exposing —or losing —her identity. Mary’s adventure, which takes place on the building site of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, offers a fictional window into a fascinating historical time and place.

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From the Publisher

Mary’s second adventure as an undercover agent forces her to relive some harrowing childhood experiences as she seeks the identity of a murderer.Mary Quinn is back, 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 into the grimy underbell...

Y. S. Lee was born in Singapore but brought up in Canada. She also lived briefly in the United Kingdom. An academic with a PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she wrote MASCULINITY AND THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS IN VICTORIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FICTION. She lives in Ontario, Canada.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 8.53 × 6 × 1.19 inPublished:August 22, 2013Publisher:Candlewick PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0763649686

ISBN - 13:9780763649685

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Miss Lee kick asses!! Here are some things I really LOVE about this book! 1. Miss Lee is far the best YA Historical/Mystery writer I have ever read! As I previously said in my review of A Spy in the House (The Agency #1), Miss Lee is an expert describing the Victorian London setting. With her words, she transports you back to the 19th century with all of your senses! Miss Lee creates the perfect environment with her eloquent and accurate descriptions of the period, but that's not all! Miss Lee also provides interesting historical facts and gives readers not only hours of enjoyment, but also knowledge. So, f you want a well written Victorian novel, then read The Agency series! Believe me, Miss Lee recreates this place masterfully! And with that said, imagine the perfect setting mixed with a big dose of mystery! Murder, danger, action, suspense! Whoa! There is everything in this book! 2. The Body at the Tower brings back the Romance! Mary Quinn's new adventure takes place at the Clock Tower during its construction. Mary Quinn has to infiltrate herself as a young worker boy and of course, search for clues to resolve the mystery behind the death body found at the clock tower. In this place, Mary Quinn/boy meets again with James Easton, the engineer who stole her heart, after a long time and Oh Good Lord! You DO want to know what have happened to him during all this time. And like in the previous book, Mary and James will definitely stop your heart countless of times! 3. The characters grow as high as the clock tower! This is probably the one of the things that will really surprise readers. Mary Quinn and James, both evolve and mature quiet a lot in this book. Mary is very down to earth and loyal to her profession. She executes her duty remarkably! And James, well, he is such a different person in this book. He will steal your heart and break it at the same time. Yet, compare to the James Easton from The Agency #1, there is immense difference between them. Mary and James will definitely surprise you! 4. The Voice I have always prefer books narrated in first person. Miss Lee's narration is so engaging that every time I pick one of her books, it is impossible for me to put down. I honestly don't know what it is, but she always manages to hook me from the very first page! Y.S.Lee is a remarkable YA writer who flawlessly portrays realistic, complex and lovable characters in one of my most beloved time periods! Highly recommended for every one who longs for an excellent and well written mystery with a perfect amount of romance! The Agency series is definitely a Must-Read!
Date published: 2012-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't Wait For More! Mary Quinn is at it again. Working for a secret organization called the Agency, she’s charged with investigating a mysterious death of a labourer at St. Stephens Tower. Mary is like the female teen version of Sherlock Holmes as she tries to solve the mystery and figure out who the murderer is. She goes undercover as a young apprentice builder at the worksite which also brings back troubled memories from her childhood. Like with the first book I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery until it was solved by Mary and James. The story does slow down in the middle as Mary gathers information and tries to learn more about the different characters suspected in the murder. There were a couple suspects and it turned out they were all connected and involved in one way or another. The way the first book ended I wasn’t sure if we’d be seeing James again. But he’s back and boy was I happy. The romance and attraction between the two shot up several notches in this book but because of Mary’s work with the Agency she ends up lying to him and knows that she can never come clean with her real job. The third book is releasing in North America in early 2012 and honestly I don’t know if I can wait that long. The summary sounds great and it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Mary and James.
Date published: 2011-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An excellent read A top notch sequel to A Spy in the House and I am looking forward to the next installment in the series.
Date published: 2011-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sensational Sequel!! Reason for Reading: Next in the series. I want to say The Body at the Tower is even better than book 1 but I think that's because I've just finished reading it. The follow up to A Spy in the House is just as amazingly brilliant as its predecessor. A fast-paced, read-into-the-night Victorian mystery. Mary Quinn has been sent on assignment this time to go undercover as a young boy. Chopping her hair off and binding her chest tightly her petite half Chinese frame allows her to pull this off without a hitch. She is sent to the construction site of St. Stephen's Clock Tower which holds the bell, Big Ben. A construction worker has just been found dead at the bottom of the tower, having supposedly either fallen or jumped. Mary's assignment is to infiltrate the construction crew and pick up any insider information on the man's death and also to look into the state of affairs concerning the construction management itself. Lee's depiction of Victorian times is authentic and never loses its credibility. As I've said previously, Ms. Lee has managed to pick the perfect profession for her heroine to move about within the confines of this rigid society. As a spy, her disguises allow her to cross class lines and present as a bold, outspoken woman in private. This time around disguised as a boy, there are no boundaries to "Mark's" world. As Mark, Mary has access to a construction site, pubs, the streets at night, and plenty of places a woman of any respectability, no matter how small, would never deem to go. The mystery is an intricate plot with several different tracks being followed. People of bad character are easy to find but it doesn't necessarily make them the villains in these particular circumstances. Lee keeps the reader guessing by adding more to the plot with each reveal. Mary also has the added burden of running into James again and their relationship takes many turns. The recommended age of these books are 12+ but I would suggest a little older as even though they are perfectly clean they speak of adult topics. This one mentions rape, prostitution, men who like little boys and other unsavory topics. Also since the protagonist is 18 years old I find no reason that this would not be enjoyed by adult readers of cozy historical mysteries. The publishers may even want to consider marketing "adult version" covers of the series. I'm anxiously awaiting book 3 but I am a tad worried that this is supposed to be a trilogy. I really hope Ms. Lee reconsiders and continues on with the adventures of Mary Quinn.
Date published: 2010-09-14

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Read from the Book

PrologueMidnight, 30 June 1859St. Stephen's Tower, Palace of WestminsterA sobbing man huddles on a narrow ledge, clawing at his eyes to shield them from the horror far below. It is dark, thus his terror is irrational; even if he wanted to, he could not make out what he's done, let alone note the gruesome details. Still, his mind's eye insists on the scene: gory, explicit, final. Imagination, not remorse, is at the core of his violent hysteria.Within the hour he will exhaust himself and even fall asleep for a few minutes. When he wakes - with a start - reason will return and bring with it a degree of fatalism. Two paths now lie before him, and the choice is no longer his. He will pick himself up, carefully not look- ing over the edge. He will right his clothing, inspect his hands with care, and return home. And then he will wait to see what the future holds.And he will vow to reveal the truth - but only at the time of his death. OneSaturday, 2 JulySt. John's Wood, LondonThe freedoms of being a boy, reflected Mary, were many. She could swing her arms as she walked. She could run if she wished. She looked tidy enough to avoid police suspi- cion but shabby enough to be invisible to all others. Then there was the odd sensation of lightness that came of having cropped hair; she hadn't realized how heavy her own hair was until it was gone. Her breasts were tightly bound, and even if they did ache a little at such treatment, she could at least scratch herself with impunity, scratch- ing in public being one of those Boy Things she ought to enjoy while she could. It was therefore a shame that she wasn't enjoying the situation. Wearing boy's clothing was comfortable and amusing, and she'd enjoyed her esca- pades in breeches during her first-ever assignment. But this - today - was entirely different. It was serious, and she still had no idea why.Her instructions were simple enough: to costume her self as a twelve-year-old boy and attend a meeting of the Agency at three o'clock this afternoon. No further expla- nation had been offered, and by now, Mary knew better than to ask for more details. Anne and Felicity always gave precisely as much information as they deemed appropri- ate. Of course, such knowledge hadn't stopped her from fretting about the possibilities yesterday, overnight, and all this morning. Over the past year, she'd delighted in her training: tests, lessons, and brief assignments that offered a taste of the life to come. But there was little pleasure in her this morning. What did Anne and Felicity want? And what sort of assignment could be connected with her present guise?The Agency had been created and was staffed entirely by women, and its genius lay in the exploitation of female stereotypes. Its secret agents disguised themselves as maids, governesses, clerks, lady companions, and other humble, powerless characters. In most situations, no mat- ter how dangerous, few people would suspect a subservi- ent woman of being intelligent and observant, let alone a professional spy. With this as the Agency's guiding philosophy, it made no sense whatsoever for Mary to be dressed as a boy.She raked her fingers through her hair, then stopped abruptly midstroke: that was a girl's gesture. And the only thing worse than not understanding what she was doing was compounding it by doing a poor job, too. As she neared the top of Acacia Road, where the Agency was headquartered, Mary pressed her lips together and took several deep breaths. Her cowardly impulse was to turn and make one last circuit of Regent's Park, to spend just a little more time thinking matters through. As though she hadn't already been marching about St. John's Wood for the past two hours. As though physical movement might still her mind and soothe her nerves. As though she was calm enough to sort through the swirl of emotions cloud- ing her brain.It was time to act, not to think. A few brisk steps took her to the house with its wrought-iron gates and polished brass nameplate: MI S S SCR I M SH AW'S ACADEM Y FOR GI RLS. The Academy had been her home for years now. But today, looking at the nameplate, she willed herself to look at it as a stranger might - specifically, as a twelve-year-old boy might. The house was large and well kept, with a tidy garden and flagged path. But in contrast with those of the neighboring houses, the front steps were swept but not whitened - an essential task that proclaimed to the world that one kept servants and kept them busy rewhitening the steps each time a caller marred them with footprints. The Academy's irregularity here was the only sign of the most unusual institution that lay within.Suddenly, the front door swung open and disgorged a pair of girls - or, rather, young ladies. They were neatly dressed, neither at the height of fashion nor in the depths of dowdiness. They were having an animated conversa- tion. And they looked curiously at Mary, whose nose was still inches from the closed gate. "Are you lost?" asked the taller of the two as they approached the gate.Mary shook her head. "No, miss." Her voice came out higher than she wanted, and she cleared her throat hast- ily. "I was bid come here."A fine wrinkle appeared on the girl's forehead. "By whom?""I mean, I've a letter to deliver."The girl held out her hand. "Then you may give it to me."Mary shook her head again. "Can't, miss. I'm charged to give it to Mrs. Frame and no one else. Is this her house?" She'd spent all morning working on her inflection, trying to get the accent right while keeping her voice gruff.The girl looked imperious. "You may trust me; I'm the head girl at this Academy."From the Trade Paperback edition.