Saturday, April 7, 2012
Review: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee
Book 1: A Spy in the House review
Book 2: The Body at the Tower review
Tags: YA, historical fiction, mystery, Victorian England
Mary Quinn’s latest assignment for the Agency has her placed as a servant in Buckingham Palace. But a dull assignment to unearth a thief in the palace turns into something a lot bigger—and more personal—when the death of an aristocrat is linked to a Chinese sailor who may or may not be Mary’s long-absent father. In addition to trying to unravel what happened to her past, Mary reluctantly joins forces again with James Easton, arrogant, infuriating, but oh-so-irresistible engineer, to examine a plot to overthrow the queen.
Whenever a new Agency novel by Y. S. Lee comes out, I always try to resist the temptation to devour it immediately, knowing that I will have to wait a while until the next book. I succeeded in resisting for all of approximately two weeks after I was approved for it on NetGalley. While, in my opinion, THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL didn’t quite live up to how much I loved the first two Agency books, it is still a satisfying return to Lee’s Victorian London.
My biggest frustration with TRAITOR was that I felt that many things were “uneven.” The story takes place among the most well-noted London landmarks and features well-known historical characters, but I still didn’t get a really thorough sense of the setting and minor characters. Some of the actions of seasoned characters felt rather abrupt and left me scratching my head and wondering, did he/she really do that? I also didn’t feel as much urgency or investment in TRAITOR, and felt like no sooner had I grasped what was going on in the plot than it was over.
But perhaps it’s just a result of it being a long time since I was in Mary’s world, or the fact that I was reading this on a Kindle, which, truth be told, sometimes takes away from my engagement in a story. I am very glad to see Mary again, who is resourceful, yet also contains relatable insecurities, particularly involving her familial past and her future, both of which get explored in appreciable side plots in TRAITOR. As always, I am more than happy to see James again—even though some of his behavior did feel a bit incongruous with the James I knew from the previous two books.
So THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL might not be my favorite of the Agency books, but this series is still arguably the best mystery series set in Victorian England available. Best yet, there is one more Agency book in the works—and you’ll agree with me that it is a wonderful thing to be able to read about Mary, James, and the others for as long as possible once you start this series!
Cover discussion: I love that this model is featured so prominently on all of the covers. And yay for matching covers!
Candlewick / Feb. 28, 2012 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $16.99
Galley received from NetGalley and publisher. Thank you!