The Traitor in the Tunnel
By Y.S. Lee
Publication date: February 28, 2012
Mary Quinn goes undercover as a maid at Buckingham Palace to investigate a series of thefts. While there, things take an interesting turn involving an opium den, the Prince of Wales, and a the murder of one of his friends. The case becomes more personal as the accused killer is a man who may be Mary's father. There is also the matter of James Easton who is working on the tunnels beneath the Palace...
The Traitor in the Tunnel is the third book in the Agency spy series featuring the intelligent and capable Mary Quinn. This time around, we find out more about Mary's family history and Mary has another chance at a relationship with James if she can be open with him. There are three mysteries to be solved-the one involving thefts in the Palace that Mary was hired to investigate, one involving the murder of the Prince of Wales's friend in an opium den and whether the Prince was the intended target (and if Mary's father is the suspected killer), and the final mystery involving plots with the sewer tunnels that lead beneath the Palace. On top of all that, things are not well at the Agency and changes may be under way. Mary has some big decisions to make involving her personal life and her career.
There is a lot to this book and while I enjoyed it, the mysteries were disappointing perhaps because there were so many plot threads to work with. This is definitely the weakest book in the series in terms of mystery, which is a shame. I was particularly disappointed with the resolution of the tunnel mystery. However I did like seeing Mary grow as she made those tough choices and some interesting developments happen at the end that make me anticipate the final book. I also liked the historical details though I did wonder if the depiction of Mary's experiences as a maid were authentic and I thought the portrayal of Queen Victoria didn't quite ring true. Still, I enjoyed reading about life in service as a fan of Downton Abbey. I was also glad to see things improve with regards to Mary's relationship with James. He is one of those genuine decent guys in YA fiction that there seem to be too little of and I hope there will be a happy ending in their future.
Overall, I still liked this book as part of the series though it does not stand up to the quality of the prior books where the mystery element is concerned. I am eager for the last book and I'm hopeful that the series will end well. Despite the flaws with this particular mystery, Mary and James are characters that I care about and it is great to see such an intelligent and brave POC heroine in YA fiction.
Note: I received an e-ARC for review through NetGalley