The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

In 1853, twelve-year-old orphan Mary Quinn is struggling to survive on the unsafe streets of shady London by committing crimes. But one day, she is unwary and is caught housebreaking and therefore, Mary is sentenced to hang. Luckily, she is rescued by a mysterious woman, who is dressed as a prison warden. The woman turns out to be Anne Treleaven, the head teacher at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls and she offers Mary an exceptional education at her school. There, she is able to acquire fine manners and other special skills. After finishing her education, Anne reveals to seventeen-year-old Mary that the academy is in fact a cover for The Agency – a top secret female investigative unit. Acknowledging Mary’s intelligence, bravery and good skills of observations, Anne encourages Mary to join The Agency and thus, put her hard training to the test.

Mary is intrigued by this new opportunity and therefore, takes up this thrilling challenge with great expectations. Her first assignment as a female investigator is to infiltrate the Thorold household in order to collect information on Mr. Thorold’s missing cargo ships. In the guise of a lady’s companion, Mary must work fast and find out the truth about Mr. Thorold’s business. But in the Thorold household, nothing is quite as it seems and Mary must be careful in deciding whom she can trust. Everyone seems to have dark little secrets: Mrs. Thorold acts rather suspiciously, her daughter Angelica is spoiled and seems to hide something and Mr. Thorold’s secretary Michael Gray flirts with Mary. And then there’s also James Easton, an arrogant, yet very attractive young man. His brother George is one of Angelica’s suitors and they have met several times. But why is James always behaving so strangely and why does he follow her everywhere? Can she really trust him or will she put herself in great danger by cooperating with him? And why is Mary trying to avoid talking about her past and parents?

The Agency: A Spy in the House is a delightful novel set in the heart of Victorian London, where shady and dangerous things are taking place. Y.S. Lee has written a compelling tale packed with suspense, action, mystery, intrigues and romance. Readers will enjoy accompanying Mary on her dangerous journey through the dusky streets of Victorian London and witnessing how this young and clever detective discovers secrets and fights the demons of her troubled childhood. I really loved this captivating tale and I wanted to read more about Mary and her fascinating adventures! The Agency: A Spy in the House is Y.S. Lee’s first novel and it’s part of a trilogy. Therefore, there will be a second novel in the Agency series, called The Body at the Tower and it will be published in August in the States. I can’t wait to read the promising sequel!

For more information on the Agency series, please visit the author’s website here. There, you can also enter a contest to win a copy of The Agency: A Spy in the House and other prizes.

Note: I would like to thank the author and her publicist Tracy Miracle from Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this engaging book!

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The Agency I: A Spy in the House – Contest

If you read my blog, then you’ll know that I love the Victorian Era and that I am always interested in finding new books that are set in that period. So I was very thrilled to find out about the novel The Agency I: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee, which is part of a trilogy. I really hope that I will get the chance to read it in the near future, as it sounds like a great read. Here’s a short summary of the book:

From Goodreads:

This is a colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel centred around the exploits of ‘agent’ Mary Quinn. At a young age, Mary is rescued from the gallows by a woman masquerading as a prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. The school, Mary learns, is a front for a private investigation agency and, at 17, she is taken on as an agent. In her new role she is catapulted into the family home of the Thorolds to investigate the shady business dealings of Mr Thorold.

Sounds engaging, right? If you are interested in this book, you have the chance to enter a contest where you can win this book and many other prizes. Just visit the author’s website here and answer the following question: What would you do if you were a spy? Good luck to everyone out there and I hope you will check out Y.S. Lee’s novel!

My Finds

My wish list is long. It’s actually pretty long – it contains over 110 books! But what can I do about it? When I visit your book blogs, I always end up adding books to my wish list. I also find books on Library Thing and Goodreads. But it’s not my fault! There are just too many books out there that just sound amazing and I want to have them all (I know it’s not possible). I am always interested in finding new and engaging books, and yesterday, while I was browsing through Goodreads, I found some really great books! And I just thought I would share with you. Here are my finds: 

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn: I love novels about authors, and I am really interested in this one, as it deals with the life of such a talented poet! 

Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson: This is a powerful novel about the unusual and strong friendship between two women, set in Sweden. I liked the sound of this story and I have heard good things about this book! 

The Observations by Jane Harris: This is a novel about an Irish maid that arrives at a Scottish estate only to discover that the owners have many disturbing secrets and skeletons in the closet. I like a good story full of dark secrets and hidden pasts. 

Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer: I have never read any Georgette Heyer books, but this one just sounded great. The book is about an English country – house murder where the butler is the victim. 

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie: Finally, I have found this book while looking for Hercule Poirot mysteries. I haven’t read this one yet, so I really want to, because I just love Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels! 

I’m relatively new to Goodreads and I didn’t know about their swap program. I just found out about it and thus, I purchased some of the above-mentioned books. I can’t wait to read them! 

So what did you find this week?

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

The Manual of Detection is one of those books you’ll find hard to classify. It’s somehow a detective story, but it’s not a typical one. Jedediah Berry’s story is a very unusual one; at times, it seems very surreal and you ask yourself what is true and what is not. In The Manual of Detection, nothing is quite as it seems and the reader finds himself caught in a world between dreaming and wakefulness, trying to find his / her way out of this dazzling labyrinth. I haven’t read such books before, so this was a new reading experience for me. That doesn’t imply that I didn’t like the book; in fact, I must say that I really enjoyed it, precisely because it was so unusual and illusive. But now let’s have a look at the plot:

The story introduces us to Charles Unwin, a clerk who works at a detective agency in an unnamed rainy metropolis. After twenty years of clerical work, he finds out, to his amazement, that he has been promoted detective. But the protagonist isn’t really happy about his new position and he is determined to do what is asked of him so that he can return to his old satisfying clerk job as soon as possible. In order to do that, he has to find out what happened to Sivart, the detective he used to clerk for. Armed with the manual of detection, Unwin searches for clues and tries to find out the truth about Sivart’s mysterious disappearance. On his journey, he finds himself entangled in a strange world of somnambulists, criminals and femmes fatales who are deceitful and harmful. Unwin has to intrude into the dreams of a murdered man, but he needs to be careful, since danger awaits him everywhere. What is real and what is not; and whom can he really trust in this deceptive city? Unwin’s questions will soon be answered as the protagonist digs further into a gripping dream world full of surprises and dangers.

Jedediah Berry’s tale is very imaginative and creative and it will appeal to everyone who likes to read about surreal themes. The Manual of Detection is a bizarre book, but at the same time, it’s a fascinating work that I enjoyed very much!