Book Review: The Body at the Tower by YS Lee

THE BODY AT THE TOWER by Y.S. Lee Book Review
Series: The Agency, #2
Publication Date: August 10th 2010 by Candlewick Press
Rating: StarStarStarStar

Book Summary: This is another colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. At a young age, Mary Quinn is rescued from the gallows and taken to Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. The school turns out to be a front for a private detective agency. At age 17, Mary takes on her first case (A Spy in the House). In this, the second book of the series, Mary Quinn sets out to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death at St. Stephen’s Tower, better known as the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The accident occurred after hours in a highly public part of town and despite the presence of night watchmen. Mary, disguised as Mark Quinn, becomes a builder’s assistant to find out the truth about the body at the tower.

Book Review Overview:

  • Fantastic sequel but not quite as good as A Spy in the House, the first book
  • Learn something about the working class during the Victorian era
  • More fantastic chemistry between Mary and James
  • Leaves you craving for more

THE BODY AT THE TOWER is another riveting mystery from Y.S. Lee. Mary Quinn goes undercover as Mark, an assistant at a construction site for St. Stephen’s Tower. With her hair chopped off and in trousers 24 hours a day, Mary completely embraces her new persona as she tries to uncover the culprit behind the recent murder at St. Stephens. Break-ins, disguises, and other types of espionage ensues.

I honestly was not as interested in the mystery this time as I was in A Spy in the House, but that does not goes to say that it was still a fun read. Lee keeps you guessing throughout the whole book. She keeps you at the edge of your seat as Mary goes on another late-night break-in as she searches for evidence or clues.

With the plot aside, I honestly felt like I learned something in the process of reading. In contrast to the first novel, THE BODY AT THE TOWER by YS Lee explores conditions of the working class from the work place to home. Most of the historical novels I read are about the upper class with their fancy parties, beautiful dresses, and finding a man suitable for marriage. THE BODY AT THE TOWER by YS Lee explores London’s lower classes and exposes the squalid conditions that they lived in during the Victorian era.

I do wish that we learned more about Mary’s past in THE BODY AT THE TOWER by YS Lee instead of her trying to push it away. I understand the dilemma that she is going through and that obviously her work does not provide her with ample time to investigate more about her father. The issue is addressed throughout THE BODY AT THE TOWER but I didn’t feel satisfied that Mary got anything accomplished towards finding out more about herself.

Of course, one of the things I looked forward to the most when I started THE BODY AT THE TOWER by YS Lee was James Easton. I loved the chemistry between them in the first book, and I was dying for more. I was not disappointed. Mary and James continue to bicker and tease throughout the whole novel, making me one happy reader. Mary and James are really what made the pages kept turning for me. I couldn’t wait to read their next encounter.

Like the first book, A Spy in the House, the mystery is tied up at the end of THE BODY AT THE TOWER by YS Lee with no plot holes (that I noticed anyways). However, the relationship between Mary and James is left in question. I still can’t quite get the ending out of my head. I keep thinking about it, trying to imagine just how the next book will turn out. I can’t wait to read more of the Agency series by YS Lee.


  1. I loved BODY too, and actually loved it more than the first. The mystery, to me, felt more “active” and the chemistry between Mary and James really REALLY kindled this time around. *fans self* Can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. I still haven’t read the first book, but it sounds like this one did some good world-building. And you have made me curious to know more about this James fellow.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

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