Rummanah Aasi
 I finally got the chance to read The Agency series by Y.S. Lee for a Victorian mystery reading challenge a couple of years ago. This series has a wonderful combination of intrigue, romance, mystery, and the rich details of Victorian England. Rivals in the City is the last book of this series. Many thanks to Netgalley and Candlewick Press for an advanced reader's copy of the book.


Description: Mary Quinn has a lot on her mind. James Easton, her longtime love interest, wants to marry her; but despite her feelings, independent-minded Mary hesitates. Meanwhile, the Agency has asked Mary to take on a dangerous case: convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and Mary must watch for the return of his estranged wife, an accomplished criminal herself who has a potentially deadly grudge against James. Finally, a Chinese prizefighter has arrived in town, and Mary can't shake a feeling that he is somehow familiar. With the stakes higher than ever, can Mary balance family secrets, conflicting loyalties, and professional expertise to bring a criminal to justice and find her own happiness?

Review: Rivals in the City is a solid ending to a fabulous historical mystery series. Mary Quinn has come a long way since sitting on death row after she is caught by the police. Now she is fully established, independent, and beginning a detective agency. She is also engaged to a remarkable man who sees her as his equal regardless of what their society dictates. Now her happiness is threatened when a ruthless criminal who has a grudge against James is back.  
  The mystery in Rivals of the City is fast paced and engaging. The criminal is smart and calculating, keeping Mary and the Agency on their toes. The clues are timed and spaced evenly, which is a relief because I hate mysteries where I solve the crime before the main character does. My minor complaint about the mystery is that it overshadows the romance between James and Mary. 
  I wanted to see both of these characters interacting as I love their chemistry and banter, but I do understand why they had to be separated. Unlike the other books in the series, Rivals in the City is romance light. Mary must make a very important decision in her relationship and I was pleased that the author did take into consideration of women's roles in Victorian England, particularly that of transferring her own property and essentially her own identity to her husband. I would have loved an epilogue regarding what happens next for our couple.  
  In addition to the mystery, there is a surprise appearance by a family member from China who provides some answers to Mary's questions about her father's past. I was hoping that the appearance of Mary's relative would play a major role in this book and interact with her a bit more, but a lot of the questions that I had surrounding Mary's father were answered. Overall Lee works well with various plot threads and combines them with details of her Victorian England setting. I would definitely recommend this series to readers who enjoy historical romances or historical mysteries. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor violence and language. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Secret Letters by Leah Scheier, Young Sherlock Holmes series  by Andrew Lane, 
6 Responses
  1. Oh good! I've been meaning to read this, I loved the first three books so much. I'm glad Mary took everything into consideration when it came to her marriage with James, but I adore the two of them together. I was hoping for more romance in this one so I'm a bit sad that they were separated, but I undestand.
    Thanks for the lovely review.


  2. I don't want this to end! I want more. I really enjoyed the whole series. Great characters, historical setting and fun mysteries. Great review!


  3. I read I think the third book, or maybe the second without having read the predecessors and I was a bit lost. I need to go back and read it correctly and give it another go.


  4. I didn't read your review because I haven't started this series yet but glad you gave it 4 stars. I've heard so many great things about the series that I really want to read it.


  5. I have the first 3 books on my tbr waiting for me to devour them. I'm glad that this is the last (since I can catch up) and sad that it's the last! I love the sound of her writing. I know I will enjoy this series.


  6. I haven't started this series at all, but since you recommend it so much, right up to the very last book, I will have to give it a try. I do remember the series when it began, I'm wondering why the main character was sitting in jail in the first book. Great review! And you liked the romance better than the mystery. I'm not sure I've ever read that from you before!


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