Title: The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower
Author: Y. S. Lee
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Concepts: poverty, wealth, incentives, profit, jobs, racial and gender discrimination
Review: A year after her first assignment as an undercover detective with the Agency, an all-female detective organization operating behind the front of a girls' boarding school, Mary Quinn had accepted a new job that would involve more intrigue and danger than even the Agency leaders could envision. Disguised as a boy, Mary had to gain the trust of a group of tradesmen at a construction site at London's Houses of Parliament to learn why one of the bricklayers had plunged to his death from the clock tower.
Immersed in her role as a poor errand boy, Mary faced a host of challenges, including inadequate food, abysmal living quarters, a violent-tempered foreman, and daily reminders of a terrifying childhood that she wanted to forget. Yet the biggest test of all proved to be the reappearance of James Easton, the man with whom she shared a complicated and fiery relationship. How could she maintain her secret identity, not to mention her composure, with James working on site as the building inspector?
With its Victorian London setting, smart heroine, and electrifying plot, this novel has much to offer to even the most discerning of readers. Adding to the appeal, the author has chosen several important principles in economics, including the incentive to seek profits and the despair of living in utter poverty, to serve as driving forces behind the characters' actions. The book holds its own as the second in a trilogy, but the clever writing will make it exceedingly difficult to avoid picking up the first installment and anticipating the next release.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children