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Y. S. Lee

Y.S.  (Ying S.) Lee was born in Singapore and raised in Vancouver and Toronto.  She completed a Ph.D. in Victorian Literature and Culture from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.  Her dissertation is entitled Masculinity and the English Working Class, 1837-1908.   In 2007, Routledge published her revised dissertation under the title: Masculinity and the English Working Class: Studies in Victorian Autobiography and Fiction.  Lee now lives in Kingston, Ontario. In addition to writing novels for a youthful audience, Lee writes short stories that have appeared in a variety of anthologies.

Body at the Tower book cover

Fiction (Young adult)

The Body at the Tower (The Agency; book two)

Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2010.

Synopsis (From author’s official website)

Now nearly a full-fledged member of the Agency, the all-female detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, Mary Quinn is back for another action-packed adventure. Disguised as a poor apprentice builder and a boy, she must brave the grimy underbelly of Victorian London – as well as childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want – to unmask the identity of a murderer.  Assigned to monitor a building site on the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, Mary earns the confidence of the work crew, inching ever nearer her suspect. But if an irresistible desire to help the city’s needy doesn’t distract her and jeopardize her cover, unexpectedly meeting with an old friend – or flame – just might.

Awards and Honours

2011 Inky Awards (Finalist)

Fiction (Juvenile)

Boxcar Riders

Illustrated by Jeff Alward.
Oakville, Ont.: Rubicon Publishing, 2007.

Rivals in the City book cover

Fiction (Young adult)

Rivals  in the City (The Agency; book four)

Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2015. (forthcoming March 2015)

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

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? .

Spy in the House book cover

Fiction (Young adult)

A Spy in the House (The Agency; book one)

Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2010.

Synopsis (From the author’s official website)

Orphan Mary Quinn lives on the edge. Sentenced as a thief at the age of twelve, she’s rescued from the gallows by a woman posing as a prison warden. In her new home, Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, Mary acquires a singular education, fine manners, and surprising opportunity. The school is a cover for the Agency – an elite, top-secret corps of female investigators with a reputation for results – and at seventeen, Mary’s about to join their ranks.

With London all but paralyzed by a noxious heat wave, Mary must work fast in the guise of lady’s companion to infiltrate a rich merchant’s home with hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the Thorold household is full of dangerous secrets, and people are not what they seem – least of all Mary.

Awards and Honours

2011 John Spray Mystery Award (Canadian Children’s Book Centre) (Winner)
2011 Red Maple Fiction Award (Ontario Library Association) (Finalist)
2010  Agatha Awards–Best Children’s/Young Adult (Finalist)

Traitor in the Tunnel book cover

Fiction (Young adult)

The Traitor in the Tunnel (The Agency; book three)

Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2012.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

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.


Publisher Candlewick Press

Y.S. Lee personal website