“If a top secret women’s detective agency existed in Victorian England, it left no evidence—just as well, since that would cast serious doubt on its competence. The Agency is a totally unrealistic, completely fictitious antidote to the fate that would otherwise swallow a girl like Mary Quinn.”
—Y. S. Lee
When I got to the end of the third book in Y.S. Lee’s Agency series, The Traitor in the Tunnel, I thought the series was over. I was so, so sad to see my time with Mary Quinn end—and how could I feel otherwise? She’s a half-Chinese 12-year-old thief! Who is saved from a death sentence! And grows up to be an intrepid secret agent! In high society of Victorian England!
But by the end of that third book—which, by the way, has an especially FANTASTIC thread about privilege and cultural power—she’s grown up so very much, is independently wealthy, has come to an agreement with her long-time love interest AND achieved closure with her missing father, and so, despite a few loose ends, it all feels very final. And eventually, I made my peace with that.
But then Rivals in the City, the ACTUAL end of the series, was announced! And I was (and still am) so, so happy that I would (and will) have one more outing with Mary. But now that I have it in hand, I find I am ridiculously reluctant to actually read it. Because then, it will REALLY be all over.* So, to prepare for my inevitable brokenheartedness, I’ve been looking around for some upcoming historical mysteries to help soothe my wounded soul. Here are a few that I’ve got my eye on:
The Notorious Pagan Jones, by Nina Berry
1960s Hollywood starlet! Whose bad choices result in her family’s death! So she gets sent to the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls! And then ends up getting sent to West Berlin? For…reasons? Anyway, it sounds like a frothy thriller with a decent amount of purple prose—lots of potential for bathtub reading, methinks.
A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin
It’s set in the Napoleonic Era and the heroine’s name is Georgiana Fitzwilliam. If that isn’t enough to make you want to pick it up, the heroine gets packed off to a boarding school due to getting in trouble over SCIENCE, and the school ends up being a front for training lady spies. YES, PLEASE.
A School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony, by Patrice Kindl
Number 1: It’s by Patrice Kindl.
Number 2: It’s the sequel to Keeping the Castle.
Number 3: Did I mention that it’s by Patrice Kindl?
As always, feel free to recommend others!
*I’m sure that I’ve mentioned that I’ve still never finished Season Seven of Buffy. Or Season Three of Deadwood. Or the last episodes of The Wire and The O.C. So, yes. It’s a pattern with me—I have a hard time saying goodbye to characters and worlds and stories that I love.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.