The Agency (Mary Quinn Mystery)

By Y S Lee

Mary, a fugitive with ambiguous heritage and past, she escaped her death and found a normal life in an all girl school. She enjoyed a stable life but at 17, she wanted more. Being a teacher wasn’t enough. So, she became a spy.

The Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y S LeeMary Russell (Mrs. Holmes, The Beekeepers Apprentice) had recommended The Agency in her tweet. One look at the description, I knew I had to read them. And I was almost out of commission until I was done with book 1 and 2.

Ying’s writing spirited me away to a Victorian England I didn’t know. I didn’t know the Chinese were treated as badly as they were in the States, I didn’t even know there were Chinese living in England then.

The story intrigued me because of Ying’s idea for The Agency itself. Women were still viewed as property at the time, rich or poor. And the working class females made perfect spies since people ignore them as if they were invisible.

The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower By Y S LeeAlthough we have seen similar ideas before (when you really want to know the truth, ask the servants) but none was depicted from an active point of view.

The story moved me because I, too, know how it feels to be Chinese and non-Chinese in the western society. I was much luckier that I didn’t suffer discrimination but the internal struggles of fitting myself into a specific race is the same.

If you haven’t been in our shoes, you might never understand this. It’s very strange but I feel more Chinese when I am with Americans and I feel like an American when I am with Chinese.

Life is easier for me than for Mary, since I am free to think that it’s OK to be both at the same time. All I need to do was to be OK with it myself. After that, it doesn’t matter what other people think.

How many books have you read that taught you history, transported your mind, and echoed with your essence?

What If Mary Russell Met Flavia de Luce?

I had just finished reading “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag” by Alan Bradley, and started on “The Moor” by Laurie R. King.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan BradlyFor some reason, I thought, what if Flavia de Luce bumped into Mary Russell on a hill like how Mary met Holmes? Would Flavia find Mary an old and strange person?

Since no one else in Flavia’s life seemed to be interested in her “elemental explorations” and otherwise, Mary’s presence would be a great comfort to her, like Holmes was to Mary.

I believe Mary can see through Flavia’s innocent act and perhaps stop Flavia from all her attempts to poison her sisters. And may be Flavia would come to see Mary as a mother/grand mother and a teacher.

the moor by Laurie R. KingAnd because of their brilliant minds and adventurous spirit, they will get a long well. Flavia won’t think Mary is stupid and Mary won’t get frustrated waiting for Flavia to catch on. And although they both are strong-willed, with a 40-year age difference, Mary would have the wisdom to tame Flavia’s rebellious nature.

I hope they will meet someday, with Flavia on her bike and Mary on her walk, on a green hill somewhere outside of London, some time in the past.