The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
The Agency, Book 3
Finished: Apr. 17, 2012
First Published: Feb. 28, 2010
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA, Victorian, historical mystery
sentence: "Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, had a lamp shape on her head. Again."
Publisher's Summary: "Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose."
Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.
for Reading: Next in the series.
An excellent finale to "The Agency" trilogy. Mary Quinn's character has grown from a rag-tag orphan thief to a young woman now ready to live independently in a world where men usually have the upperhand. This was a fun case all-round, which has Mary playing parlour maid inside Buckingham Palace to rout out who has been stealing odd pieces of ornamentation, all to no avail. However when she thinks the case is not going to go any further, the details of the murder of a friend of the Prince of Wales is being kept all "hush-hush" and the Prince has been banished to seclusion. Now here is a case Mary can sink her teeth into! But how is it related to the thefts and why does Mary think she may have finally found her father.
Many issues that have been brought up previously in this series are put together and solved to the reader's satisfaction. By the end of the book one quite forgets they are reading a YA novel, and feels more like they are in a Gothic Romance. Mary is a feisty woman and her paramour James seems to like that in a woman because nothing she says, does, or reveals shocks him. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale.
Now, we've been told this is the end of a trilogy and the book does have a finite ending in certain respects, while in others there is still plenty of openings for a new trilogy or series to continue from here; perhaps more of an adult read than YA. Though either way I'd be happy. Towards the end of the book, James and Mary had a decidedly Tommy and Tuppence air about them and I'd love to see them together in their own series aimed at adults.
ETA: Well after a little looking around it seems this is no longer being tooted as the last book in the series and Lee is indeed currently writing a fourth book about Mary Quinn! Good news to my ears! We'll see if she uses this opportunity to make any changes to the series or just continues on with it. I'm happy either way.