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The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel / by Y.S. Lee

Title: The Agency: The Traitor in the Tower
Author: Y.S. Lee
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5316-3
Year: 2012

Concepts: poverty, wealth, jobs, discrimination, incentives

Review: Mary Quinn's first assignment as a newly promoted full member of the Agency appeared at first blush to involve little danger or intrigue. A high-level member of Queen Victoria's household had contacted the Agency about the theft of several small but valuable trinkets, so it was up to Mary - working undercover in the position of upper housemaid - to expose the thief. This fairly mundane assignment, however, took on several unexpected layers of complexity seemingly all at once. Not only did the Prince of Wales witness a murder in an opium den when he was out carousing around London, but the ancient sewer system underneath Buckingham Palace presented a new threat to the security of the royal household.

Adding to the perplexity of these new developments, Mary soon learned from her superiors at the Agency that none other than Easton Engineering, headed by James Easton, was handling the sewer repairs. She would need to confront James and warn him to avoid blowing her cover, a task made all the more daunting given their last charged encounter and the pain he had caused her.

This final installment in the Agency trilogy does not disappoint. As before, a tantalizing love story is cleverly intertwined with a murder mystery, personal drama, and important lessons about class, poverty, gender, and race in Victorian England. While the author has taken care to ensure that this book stands on its own, the characters and dialogue are again so well crafted that reading the entire series will become irresistible.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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