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Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.
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Y. S. Lee has a PhD in Victorian literature and culture and says her research inspired her to write A SPY IN THE HOUSE, "a totally unrealistic, completely fictitious antidote to the fate that would otherwise swallow a girl like Mary Quinn." Y. S. Lee lives in Ontario, Canada.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7 Up—Mary Quinn, a scrappy 12-year-old orphan and accomplished thief in Victorian London, is saved from the gallows by a stranger and taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls, an institution dedicated to turning out strong, independent, educated young women. Though reluctant at first, she accepts the challenge and eventually becomes a teacher herself. At 17, she is recruited by the mistresses of the school to join a covert group of female spies known as The Agency. Her first assignment involves posing as a lady's companion to the daughter of a man suspected of fraud and smuggling. She carries out her investigation at night and during stolen moments, but soon finds that she is not the only one on the case. Is James Easton a friend or foe? A dramatic rescue from a burning building reveals the true villain but leaves other questions unanswered. Lee fills the story with classic elements of Victorian mystery and melodrama. Class differences, love gone awry, racial discrimination, London's growing pains in the 1850s, and the status of women in society are all addressed. Historical details are woven seamlessly into the plot, and descriptive writing allows readers to be part of each scene. Readers who liked Phillip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke (Knopf, 2008) will find similar elements in this new series starter.—Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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