Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: The Traitor in the Tunnel - Y. S. Lee

The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee
Series: The Agency #3
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery
Published on February 28, 2012
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 373
Read From: 3.2.12 - 3.4.12

Queen Victoria has a problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency assigns quick-witted Mary Quinn to the case. Posing as a domestic in the royal household and fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales are challenge enough, but when the prince witnesses a murder in an opium den - and scandal threatens the royal family - Mary learns that the accused killer may be someone very close to her. 
Engineer and former flame James Easton, meanwhile, has his own assignment, in the sewers beneath the palace, where someone is making illicit use of the tunnels. Can Mary and James put their simmering feelings aside long enough to expose the trespasser - and avert disaster?


Like the other two installments in this original and thrilling Victorian-era mystery series, The Traitor in the Tunnel is filled with exciting twists and turns that keep the Reader guessing from the very end. And unlike the others, we Readers have two mysteries to puzzle out all at the same time. While the solution to these mysteries are fairly easy to figure out, there are enough surprises to keep the mystery from feeling lame, and the odd reluctance on the Ageny's part to help Mary with her job throws in a very unexpected twist that wraps this story up on a satisfying note, but also leaves room for more installments, if the Author so desired.

Mary, as usual, is a strong heroine, clever and thinks well on her feet. And also as usual, as soon as James Easton barges into the story, Mary goes from a likable, strong-willed and practical young woman to an undecided, airheaded girl with an erratic temper. As always, this drove me up a wall, because I like Mary Quinn, but as soon as James is there, she becomes irritating. James does, perhaps, have more moments in this book than in others where he actually displays promising traits, but for the most part, I found myself wishing he would just disappear.

While Book Three had lots of moments that were way better than the others, it also had many slippery slopes. While nothing actually ever happens, Mary is twice attacked by two different young men, both with the intent of having their way with her (pg. 257-258 and pg. 264-266). These scenes mostly involve lots of kissing and the young men feeling under Mary's skirts; beyond that, there are no unnecessary details. Still, while certainly realistic - maids were accosted all the time, - they were unrequired scenes that could have very easily been omitted, and the story would have been better for it. There is also 1 g--damn, and another character willingly beds another man with the intent of getting him to marry her (this situation has no details accompanying it, however).

So, the constant sexual situations got very tiring and for me, personally, got in the way of the mysteries, which were themselves very interesting. But The Traitor in the Tunnel does end in a satisfactory manner, and I give Y. S. Lee a thumbs up for another job well done.

Others 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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