I’ve read 17 books this year according to my Goodreads tally and I’ve posted four reviews on this year’s CBR. One might suggest it’s because I had a baby this May, but let’s be real. I didn’t have a baby last year and I got just as behind on my reviews. So I will be more realistic and just point out that I probably won’t hit my goal of 26 reviews, even if I read 26 books. Such is life and I will do my best. The fifth book I tackled this year was Y.S. Lee’s The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2). I did read the first Agency book last year for CBR 7, but failed to post a review in time. Typical me.
The premise behind the Agency series is that there is a finishing school for young women in 19th century England that has a secret specialty – it turns out spies. People often overlook maids, governesses, companions, etc., so who better to hire for an investigation than a young woman who’ll be ignored? That’s the case for Mary Quinn, who is now a legitimate member of the Agency and about to take on her second big case. In this one she will call up her talent for disguise and dress as a young boy apprentice to investigate the suspicious death of a worker building the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament.
I confess I no longer recall whether the culprit was someone I expected, but I do remember liking this mystery. Mary is a fun character to follow; she’s learning how to spy and trust her instincts at the same time. She meets and befriends another apprentice while on the case and discovers his home life is quite terrible. Even to the danger of her investigation and herself, she tries to help this young boy all the while avoiding detection. Another aspect that I quite enjoyed is the time period. Give me a British period piece mystery and I will be content for hours. Even better? Make a Masterpiece Theater show out of it. This would work really well as a TV series, as it’s working well for novels.