I’ve been wanting to read A Changed Agent, the first book in The Adirondack Pinkertons, since reading glowing reviews in 2016. Once I found the second book, The Heart of an Agent, as a Read Now e-galley on NetGalley, I decided it was time. So I downloaded the Read Now e-galley and purchased a Kindle ebook of A Changed Agent.
I have an admitted liking for Pinkerton agents in Historical Fiction, so that bias was in play and could help or ruin the reading experience depending on the skill of the author. What I found in A Changed Agent wasn’t ground breaking, but takes familiar elements and combines them to make an enjoyable, comfortable read. William Benton’s slow transformation from hardened undercover Pinkerton agent to loving family man is precipitated by one of his sisters foisting their deceased sister’s two children on him, forcing him to take them with him on an assignment in Albany, New York. As Elsie Mitchell, the local schoolteacher, cares for the children and insists on his developing a more consistent relationship with them, he slowly falls for the opinionated woman who insists he attend Sunday services. Of course, when danger comes out of her past William is just the man she needs. While the living situation seemed a bit unconventional for the historical period, and the story focused more on the home and relationships than the undercover assignment, I quite enjoyed the domestication of William as well as the glimpses of him in action as a Pinkerton.
The second book, The Heart of an Agent, is centered around Pinkerton agent Lily Handland who was one of the most interesting side characters in A Changed Agent, so I was interested to see where her story would lead. Very little of the Pinkerton aspect is actually included, but what followed was an excellent story of a grieving widower (Owen Murphy) who has let his business suffer and the spunky young woman who shakes him up and gets the business moving forward again, while slowly winning his ever so reluctant heart that is finally and a bit grudgingly beginning to mend. It was interesting to learn about the Great Camps of the Adirondacks that were only mentioned in the first book. Throw in some good neighbors, a lovely caretaker couple, an interfering relative, a faith slowly restored and the specter of Lily’s past and you have a slower but lovely tale.
A Changed Agent may not be groundbreaking or even completely unpredictable, but reading it was a very pleasant way to spend an evening, and I can foresee reading it again. As for The Heart of an Agent, I was a bit disappointed not to see Lily in action but still enjoyed her and Owen’s story. Naming the deceased wife Rebecca was a fun touch, as her presence is very much felt and it brought to mind a certain classic though only in that respect and without any of the gothic aspects.
If you enjoy Pinkerton stories where the relationships are more important than the mystery, then this is an enjoyable series to try. I do hope this turns out to be more than a duology, but if not, then these are satisfying reads that, with their page counts being under 250 pages, have great rereading potential for a quiet evening.
A Changed Agent (The Adirondack Pinkertons, #1) by Tracey J. Lyons | Waterfall Press, July 2016 | ebook, 242 pages
The Heart of an Agent (The Adirondack Pinkertons #2) by Tracey J. Lyons | Waterfall Press, November 2017 | ebook, 241 pages
This review refers to a purchased ebook of A Changed Agent and an e-galley of The Heart of an Agent read courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the Publisher:
[A Changed Agent] When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn’t the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner’s niece and nephew, who’ve been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts.
Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He’s never wanted family—his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life—and to Elsie.
As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William’s secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger.
Tracey J. Lyons, the author of A Changed Agent, returns to the Adirondack Mountains of the 1890s in a novel of love, faith, and secrets…
[The Heart of an Agent] Former Pinkerton spy Lily Handland has always dreamed of a quiet, safe life, free from chasing criminals and putting herself at risk. So when the opportunity to invest in a failing Great Camp in the Adirondacks comes to her attention, she quickly jumps at the chance.
Filled with grief, widower Owen Murphy wants to run away from it all. Though he’s worked hard to forge a future for himself, his guilt has kept him mired in the past. But all that changes when a headstrong, mysterious woman shows up at Owen’s door. Together, as Lily and Owen restore the beauty of the Great Camp, he begins to finally see a future. But will learning about Lily’s past destroy it all?