Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace - and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending
off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose. (summary from Goodreads)

The Traitor and the Tunnel is another thrilling addition to a magnificent series that will, as always, leave you desperately wanting the next book!

It's been 7 months since the events of The Body at the Tower - Mary Quinn hasn't seen James Easton since that night she revealed some of the truths about her past and is now working on a case at Buckingham Palace, disguised as a domestic maid in the hopes of solving a string of petty thefts. But after weeks with no apparent clues Mary fears this may be her first unsolved case, which only adds to the worry over the strained relationship between Miss Treleaven and Mrs Frame and the future of the Agency. When James gets the contract to shore up the sewers beneath the palace, Mary can't seem to avoid running into him - especially as he seems intent on renewing a relationship with her. When they discover a secret tunnel into the palace that appears to be in use, they must work together again to discover its intent, as well as face their feelings for each other. Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales, Bertie, seems to have taken Mary's kindess as an invitation for a much more intimate relationship. But all of this pales in comparison when one of the Prince's friends is murdered by a Chinese sailor...who happens to be named Lang Jin Hai. Could this man be Mary's long lost father? Mary is determined to get answers at any cost, as what began as a case of mere petty theft quickly spirals into something much more than Mary could have imagined.

I have loved this series right from the get go, and have been beyond desperate to read this latest installment since finishing The Body at the Tower. I knew before I even started that I would love it, and Lee certainly does not disappoint in any way. The Traitor and the Tunnel jumps right in and keeps moving at a fast pace until the very end. I could not put it down, though that isn't much of a surprise considering that I also read the previous two books in one sitting! Lee simply does no wrong with these books. I adore her characters, I love her plots, the intrigue keeps me on the edge of my seat, and the romance between Mary and James drives me crazy...and I enjoy absolutely every second of it!

I'm sure I've said this before, but Mary Q
uinn must hands down be one of my favourite heroines. She's been through so much in her life and yet her fighting spirit shines. Every book sees her in a tough situation that she braves her way through. Here she faces her hardest and most personal case yet. Mary's finally discovering the truth about her father's disappearance is highly emotional and heart-wrenching. Her stoic bravery in the face of hardship is always admirable, but it's nice to see her softer side too. The raw emotionality of her feelings throughout The Traitor and the Tunnel had lumps forming in my throat and tears in my eyes. Lee has developed such a well-rounded and complete character with Mary, and I love how every book sees her grow and change just a little. I feel like I know Mary so well, but always look forward to learning more. Every time, I'm desperate to see things work out in Mary's favour - especially personally. She may always solve the case, yet I've always been left a little heartbroken for her. I found myself so connected to both Mary and the story that I was - again - reacting physically and vocally! Lee really knows how to twist me up inside, and her surprises had me a bit of an emotional mess by the end of this book. To know with what emotion though, you're going to have to read it!

If ever asked, I will most definitely answer that my favourite thing about The Agency series is the relationship between Mary and James. Their romance sets my blood boiling - in good and bad ways! It equally thrills and frustrates me! I've really enjoyed the development of their relationship and Lee only adds to it through The Traitor and the Tunnel. The attraction and tension between them is as high as ever, so much so that there's a feeling throughout the book of it having reached breaking point - that this time their relationship has reached the point of now or never. Where the mystery and suspense of the petty thefts, the secret tunnel, and the Chinese sailor are truly compelling, by the end of the book I was most eager for the outcome of Mary and James's personal relationship. I know which way I wanted it to go, but didn't feel confident that Lee would provide me with what I wanted most. At one time I couldn't handle the worry, so gently put my Kindle down, and to no one in
particular - though family members were about! - stated that I would never get over the utter devastation if it didn't end my way...then proceeded to stomp my feet, shake my fists, and growl a little. Yes, I had a minor tantrum so as to get it out of my system in order to be able to proceed reading. All I will say of the ending is that it was surprising and went a long way to ensuring that I'm on tenterhooks for the next book in the series! Without doubt, Lee knows how to leave readers satisfied and yearning all at once.

If you're a fan of The Agency series, you will love The Traitor and the Tunnel. Full of all of the intrigue and high stakes we've come to expect from these mysteries, Lee raises the bar emotionally in terms of both Mary Quinn's past and future. Questions are answered as more are raised, especially in terms of Mary's family, her role with the Agency, and the future of her relationship with James. This book - this entire series - is a gripping and entertaining read that I can't recommend enough!


Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published date: 28 February 2012
Pages: 384
Format: e-Galley

Many thanks to Candlewick Press and NetGalley!


  1. Thanks for the review! I, too, have loved the Mary Quinn series and cannot wait to get my hands on the TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL. Thanks Ms. Lee. Please do not stop now! More Mary Quinn!

  2. @Mary Thanks, Mary! I absolutely adore this series and cannot wait for more! :-D

  3. This series is by far the best one I've read yet.These books have been such page turners. I have loved the ending of every one of the books.

    My favorite part of all three books is the relationship in-between Mary Quinn and James Easton. Every time something happend between the two, moving there relationship further along I found myself feeling happy for two fictional characters. In result I had to put the book down and soak in what was happening.

    The word is out that Y.S.LEE is writing one last Mary Quinn mystery , Rivals in the city!

    Fear not though, Y.S.LEE is not yet done with the Agency. No more Mary Quinn or James Easton , but a main new character. My fingers are crossed that Lee brings back , Cassandra Day , a character from the first Agency book.