Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel

The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel

Y.S. Lee
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Candlewick Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-0763653163

A person high up in Queen Victoria’s household has asked the Agency to solve a problem. Someone is stealing ornaments from Buckingham Palace and no one seems able to catch the thief in the act. As a member of the Agency, Mary Quinn is given the job of going undercover, working as a housemaid in the queen’s household. It is hoped that she, now a full member of the Agency, will be able to figure out what is going on.

   After six weeks in the palace Mary has learned next to nothing. No one is talking about the thefts because gossip is forbidden by order of the queen. Mary is beginning to think that she is never going to find the thief when something happens. Police officers knock on the palace door late one night. They have brought home Prince Edward, the queen’s son and heir, and he has once more got himself into an unfortunate situation. This time is worse though. “Bertie” was present in an opium den when a Chinaman attacked and killed an aristocrat who was one of Bertie’s friends. The young man, the Honorable Ralph Beaulieu-Buckworth, liked to go slumming and took Bertie with him to the opium den. Somehow something went terribly wrong and now Bertie’s friend is dead, attacked by a Chinaman who was under the influence of opium.

   Mary is intrigued by the story and then she hears that the Chinaman who killed Bertie’s friend is called Jin Hai Lang. Though this name means nothing to the queen and her husband, it means a great deal to Mary. Jin Hai Lang is the name of her father, the father she thought had died at sea.

  At this most confusing and upsetting time Mary is recalled by her employers who tells her that she needs to give up her job at the palace. Work is going to be done on the old and unreliable sewers under the palace and the man who was given the job is none other than James Easton, a man Mary knows very well. If he sees her at the palace he could blow her cover. Mary manages to convince her employers that she should stay on at the palace. She will tell James that she is there and ask him not to indicate that he has met her beofre. Mary even goes so far as to suggest that she should look into the circumstances surrounding Beaulieu-Buckworth’s death. Everyone knows that the Chinaman will be convicted without proper due process and surely the Agency should not stand by and let such a thing happen.

   Given permission to continue looking for the thief and to look into the murder, Mary sets about trying to find a way to save her father before it is too late.

   In this third Agency title, Mary Quinn faces her biggest challenge yet, one that threatens to damage her on a personal level. Not only that, but she finally has to admit to herself that she has strong feelings for James Easton, and that perhaps it is time to tell James who and what she really is. Even if it means that he will cast her aside.

   Full of interesting twists and turns, this beautifully crafted story will delight readers who enjoy mysteries set in times gone by.