The Traitor and the Tunnel (The Agency, #3)by Published 01 Aug 2011
|The Traitor and the Tunnel (The Agency, #3).pdf|
|Publisher||Walker & Company|
Queen Victoria has a problem: there's a thief at work in Buckingham Palace. The Agency - the secret all-female detective unit - assigns quick-witted Mary Quinn to the case. Posing as a palace maid and fending off the attentions of the Prince of Wales are challenging enough, but when the prince witnesses a murder, Mary's case becomes anything but petty.
Engineer and former flame James Easton has an assignment in the sewers, where someone is making illicit use of the tunnels. Mary will need James's help if she's going catch a thief, solve a murder - and avert disaster.
The Traitor and the Tunnel (The Agency, #3) Reviews
A lot is happening for Mary, both personally and professionally, in this latest installment. It opens with Mary on her first assignment as a fully trained Agent, even though the case - petty thefts at the palace - is a bit humdrum after the excitement of previous cases.
But then, while she's at the palace, this go awry for the Prince Bertie, and the case touches on Mary's on past. She also is left in a position of having to decide just how far she'll go to compromise herself to get information she needs.
And while all this is going on, there's another crossing of paths with James Easton, which causes both tempers and passions to flare.
All in all, I found it a page turner, and one of those ever rarer books, of late, where I found myself chomping at the bit to get back to the story while I was forced to be away from it. (Stupid work.)
There were moments of eye-rollingness in the romance department, as these sort of drawn out 'will they or won't they' kind of romances have, but also nice little moments of butterflies and frisson.
My only real complaint is that more time seemed to be spent on the personal side of things, and Mary often seemed so distracted by things that the case at hand often felt like it was on the back-burner, to the point where clues were almost stumbled upon accidentally as opposed to actually being investigated.
And, within the personal front, some of her reactions surprised me, namely [spoilers removed]
And I'm definitely glad some things went the way they did - [spoilers removed]
Anyway, as I said, some of the personal bits seemed a bit belabored at the cost of the mystery part, though, as I'm more a character-based reader, this bothered me less than it might bother those looking more for a juicy mystery.
But I did like the resolution of the case, particularly the role played by Vicky, Herself. Quite a plucky thing. ;)
The ending leaves things for the future looking interesting, and I look forward to the next installment of the series.
The Traitor in the Tunnel is by far the best installment of The Agency series; with the character introductions and early foundation cases out of the way, Mary finally (literally) moves onwards and upwards - in the world and as an agent of The Agency - faces her past and hitherto mysterious Chinese heritage and really makes some serious relationship progress with former beau (of sorts) James Easton. Hurrah.
Nothing could have prepared me for how much I enjoyed the change of scenery - we depart from the family house setting of The Spy in the House and the gritty conditions of the working poor in The Body at the Tower and dive into a case of serial thefts at BUCKINGHAM PALACE (something about a mystery in the palace always dials up the excitement - the whisperings of the servants, Queen Victoria herself making an appearance or two). With the change of setting also comes increased gravity of her assignment; although deceptively simple at the outset, Mary not only discovers that it is linked to a murder involving the Prince of Wales and a piece of her past that she'd long locked away, but also stumbles across a threat to the royal family hidden in secret tunnels running underneath the palace. The triple-layered mystery tying together a treasonous plot against Queen Victoria and Mary's long-lost Chinese father certainly makes The Traitor in the Tunnel a wildly more entertaining and suspenseful read than Book 2; I had admittedly thought the mystery in Books 1 & 2 often fell flat, but it certainly wasn't the case here.
But the greatest strengths of this book lay in two aspects. The first is the emotional exploration of Mary's heritage and racial identity - we knew little in previous books, aside from the fact that Mary is half-Chinese and keeps it hidden for her own safety in a country where Chinese and mixed-bloods are treated with hostility. But the return of her father as an opium addict and suspected murderer forces Mary to acknowledge and accept her mixed heritage as well as reconcile her memories of her father with the grim reality - and it IS grim. I loved that Y.S. Lee never tried to romanticize the "long-lost father" or his opium addiction, nor did she flinch from addressing Mary's Asian origins and what it entails in her historical period. It is exceedingly for a YA heroine to have Asian blood and for it to be treated not as something "exotic" and glamorous, but merely as a part of who Mary is and something which she has to deal with.
The second strength is the development of a more believably grounded relationship between Mary and James, both now considerably more mature and with the series of lies surrounding Mary's identity, their misunderstandings and prejudices out in the open. It would be unrealistic if their problems were so simply solved and they remain their stubborn, strong-willed selves, but they're both learning to trust and be upfront with their feelings rather than dancing around the issue. I had liked their romance in previous books but was admittedly never wholeheartedly invested in it; that has certainly changed with this book.
Most loose ends are wrapped up fairly neatly by the end and the romantic developments are wonderfully satisfying (a real contrast to the cliffhanger at the end of Book 2, that's for sure), but a threat to the future of the Agency itself promises enough intrigue for the final book.
Ah, Ying…you are amazing. If I could give you a big hug right now, I would, I would also look like a crazy person/creepy stalker, but it would be worth it, because you just wrote the most PERFECT third book in a series of this kind, and I'm so happy I can finally give my beloved Mary Quinn a 5 star rating! SO HAPPY!
In this third book, Mary is working as a maid at the Buckingham Palace, undercover, of course, for the Agency. Some objects have gone missing, suggesting there's a thief among the staff, and Mary's job is to unravel this mystery. Meanwhile, Mr James Easton is commissioned to rebuild the sewer system of the Palace, which forces the couple to meet again – YAY! I was so nervous -and excited- to know how they were going to behave around each other after their oh-so-sad last encounter in The Body at the Tower. Really, James…you broke my heart, but I'm so happy I didn't lose my faith in you, because you may have broken it then, but you healed it now...
*pause to swoon all over James*
I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I would hate to spoil this GREAT book for potential readers, but I'll say this: this is a remarkably well written story, with just the perfect amounts of historical facts, spying, danger, romance, heartbreaking scenes, and will-bring-a-smile-to-your-face moments, and I highly recommend this series for everyone who is in need of a great read with a lovely -and yet so brave- heroine.
I want to thank the author once again for writing these books, and also say that I could barely believe my eyes when I found out this third installment was not going to be the last one in the Agency series, YES: THERE'S GOING TO BE A FOURTH BOOK! Thank you my lucky stars! :)
*PT*Cuidado com o Dálmata - The Traitor and the Tunnel
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2012/03/b...
**WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE AGENCY SERIES. If you have not read books 1 & 2, and you wish to stay unspoiled, look away now! You have been warned.**
After the events of The Body at the Tower, Mary Quinn finds herself a full graduate of the Academy and an official operative of The Agency. Her first official assignment, however, is the somewhat disappointing mission to discover the identity of a petty thief, responsible for nicking a number of trinkets in the residence of Queen Victoria and her family at Buckingham Palace. Undercover as a parlor maid, Mary dutifully dives into her official role and is set on discovering the identity of the thief. Her investigation, however, leads her to an even more intriguing mystery when the police turn up at the palace, unannounced, bearing with them the shell-shocked heir prince Bertie. During a typical night of drinking and entertainment with the less than reputable Sir Ralph Beaulieu-Buckworth, the prince and his friend made an ill-advised trip to a seedy opium den – a trip that would end with the murder of Beaulieu-Buckworth at the hands of an opium-crazed Chinese sailor, Jin Hai Lang. Mary’s long lost father, presumed dead at sea.
Reeling from this dramatic news, Mary is determined to figure out the truth of her father’s incarceration, but her path is anything but clear. With tensions brewing at Agency headquarters and the infuriating James Easton reappearing in her life, complicating matters even more, Mary also knows that something secret and sinister is happening at Buckingham Palace. With a suspected traitor in the midst, Mary’s first job is anything but simple.
Building on characters and plot threads introduced in A Spy in the House and The Body at the Tower, The Traitor in the Tunnel picks up the intrepid Mary Quinn’s story and throws a slew of new complications in the mix. From a pure storytelling and plotting perspective, this third entry is somewhat uneven. The mystery aspects of the novel – that of Mary’s father’s imprisonment, that of the petty thief in the palace, and that of the larger treasonous plot afoot – feel scattered, with many stops and starts that don’t quite gel together in a cohesive whole. The eponymous Traitor in the Tunnel, truly the overarching mystery of the book, is sort of haphazardly thrown together and comes to a dissatisfying conclusion.1 Criticism concerning the logic of the plot aside, however, The Traitor in the Tunnel is an incredibly readable book and as engaging as ever, fraught with action and danger and steeped in mystery. I couldn’t put the book down, even while my brain cataloged some of the less-appealing aspects of the plot.
The reason why The Traitor in the Tunnel succeeds is not because of the strength of its plotting, but rather because of the strength of its heroine. As always, I love the premise of this series, taking the Victorian time period and adding a group of women who refuse to accept society’s imposed roles and amass their own power and agency – literally. As with the prior two books, The Traitor in the Tunnel explores these societal expectations and the women that both embrace and defy it (including the figure of Queen Victoria herself). Mary’s story in this third book is the most cathartic of all her adventures to date as she comes face to face with her lost father and is forced to reconcile her memories of Lang Jin Hai with reality. I love that Mary’s reunion with her father is not glamorized, and that Jin Hai is not exonerated for his crime or his addiction. More importantly, I LOVE the exploration of Mary’s heritage and sense of self-perception and identity in this novel (I have been waiting for this to be addressed in the series with more scrutiny!), as she has to make a choice about revealing her heritage in a London where “Asiatics” (and half-breeds like Mary) are seen as hated, inferior foreigners.
Mary’s soul-searching especially comes into play with her relationship with the infuriating/loveable James Easton. I won’t say much about anything that happens, except that their romantic relationship is FINALLY played through to resolution – but you’ll have to see for yourself if that is a good or a bad resolution. In any case, as always, I love the chemistry between James and Mary, with the both of them as incredibly stubborn and strong-willed as they are. Other familiar faces also make appearances in this installment – Felicity, Anne, the irritatingly charming Octavius Jones.
Overall, the series’ overarching plot is advanced with dramatic news at the close of the book with the future of the Agency at risk, some wonderful romantic developments, and plenty of loose ends to be explored. In short, while The Traitor in the Tunnel is not a perfect book, it is a very good one, and I cannot wait for the next Mary Quinn mystery.
Blergh. This one really didn't work for me. It was just too... much. In other words, nothing about this felt realistic.
-Mary and James' fight at the start felt contrived, and for dramatic purposes only
-The setting felt over the top (Mary is investigating shenanigans at Buckingham Palace of all things). I mean, sure, some of the stuff with Queen Victoria was a bit fun, but also, really over the top
-The whole sub-plot with the Prince of Whales was just ick. She's a sympathetic and attractive maid who's caught his eye (or she's pretending to be). Is she able to say no? It just, it was one too many things, and while probably a realistic conundrum for a maid, not one I enjoyed.
-I will say this, while it was certainly dramatic, [spoilers removed]
-Speaking of happily ever afters, I really enjoy James and Mary when they're working together on a case, but the romantic resolution... [spoilers removed]
-Really, the whole ending felt way too convenient. [spoilers removed]
I dunno, parts of it are fun - who doesn't enjoy a secret tunnel under a palace. But I'm annoyed enough at the ending that I'm debating finishing the series.