A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House (The Agency, Book 1)
Y.S. Lee

Teenager in Victorian dress  looking back at building

We meet Mary as a twelve year old destined for the gallows. Somehow, she is spared that fate, and next time we see her she is seventeen and about to become an undercover investigator for the very people who saved her life.

This is the first book in the “A Spy in the House” series. At first, I was thinking that the series might focus each book on a different Agency spy, but I looked at the cover again and saw that it says “A Mary Quinn Mystery.” That makes me happy, I’m looking forward to seeing Mary grow into her own even more fully.

In this book, she is to play a minor, supporting role in the Agency’s investigation into a shady London merchant. I was rolling my eyes, convinced she was going to swoop in and save the whole case and be the hero, but it didn’t exactly work out that way. And I was glad. We see her as a baby investigator, still with plenty of pluck, but it seems to be a more realistic depiction of how a situation like hers might actually happen.

I *love* that this book is concerned with social justice issues (and in a non-preachy way!) The main investigation centers around artifacts stolen from a Hindu temple in India, possibly brought to London from traders and installed in private collections. Stealing another culture’s treasures is something that pops up in the news now and again, bringing with it questions about where these items belong, and who should have the rights to them.

There’s a scene where Mary comes across obscene materials owned by the merchant she’s investigating. The subject matter is African slaves being sexually abused by masters – and this is recognized as particularly bad, as abuse, not just average titillating images. (It’s not something that is mentioned in explicit detail, and is not a feature of the book, for anyone that might have concerns.)

There are also questions surrounding Mary’s identity, which I won’t go into, but are sure to provide more material for future books.

Glad I read this one for #Diversiverse!



5 thoughts on “A Spy in the House

  1. Pingback: {diversity in lit} Friday #20 | omphaloskepsis

  2. I’m glad you participated! Another participant read the 3rd book in the series and said it just gets better, so you probably have a lot to look forward to 🙂

  3. I love this series! I’m counting down the days until the fourth book is published in January. 🙂

    I feel like I don’t see many bloggers reading it though, so it was a pleasant surprise to see your review pop up in my feed. Glad you enjoyed it!

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