Friday, September 13, 2019

Review - - India Black

by Carol K. Carr
A Madam of Espionage Mystery - Book 1
Publisher: Berkeley
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Reviewed by Hellie

When Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, Madam India Black is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

Blackmailed into recovering the missing documents by the British spy known as French, India finds herself dodging Russian agents-and the attraction she starts to feel for the handsome conspirator.

Hellie's Heeds:

I stumbled upon this “how did I miss this?” gem while at the library, and the opening line grabbed my attention so thoroughly, I put aside some much needed review reading to read this instead. 

My name is India Black. I am a whore.

Still, an opening line is no good without a compelling voice and the kind of wordsmithing to prove your great hook, and Ms. Carr delivers. I cracked up as India first said if you’re virtuous, you’ll put this book aside, glare at the shop owner, and then go home and sleep guilt free; but if you weren’t, but were intrigued and were hoping for a treatise on whore’s tricks, you would be sadly disappointed and the book would cost much more if it had been. 

By the time India sets the stage for what her book will cover, we’re introduced to a successful brothel madam who was looking forward to an evening of making sure her employees weren’t giving discounts to their favorite customers, but instead has to figure out how to dispose of the dead body of a frequent customer without news getting out to other brothels, leading to India’s establishment getting raked through the mud. But it’s no ordinary dead body. It is the corpse of someone who works for Queen Victoria’s government, and he had been carrying state secrets when he keeled over. Except no one knows where the documents have gone.

French, a government agent who works with PM Benjamin Disraeli, blackmails India--who was working to discard the corpse far, far from her place of business--into helping him recover the documents. What follows is a kidnapping, a near death experience at the Russian embassy, and a cross-country chase in the bitter cold to catch the bad guys before they get to Dover (to escape to France.) It’s fast paced and fun and the writer’s voice and wordcraft is to die for. If you are fan of British history, this is your series. The historical details are gritty and thoughtful and will make you want to research more about what you’re learning. The scenes with the Prime Minister Disraeli steal the show--and the line where Disraeli calls his nemesis, Gladstone who wants to become PM, “God’s Only Mistake” made me laugh out loud--and then made me laugh louder when I learned he had actually said that. 

The voice of India Black is cheeky, resourceful, and just the sort of voice of a woman who will lead you on a merry romp. I can’t wait to read more of the series. My only concern is that there are only about four books that I was able to find, but I’m not sure what has become of the author, Carol K. Carr. But I’ll worry about that once I get the series the meantime, I’m off to locate the next one, India Black and the Widow of Windsor. 


  1. what a good find. Thanks for your candid review. The cover is gorgeous.

  2. A new author for me - sounds like a good one!

  3. This sounds like a great read. There's nothing I love more than a good romance/spy book. I just checked my library and they have this one and also "India Black and the Widow of Windsor". I've put a hold on both of them, and will pick them up in a few days.

  4. I think you will all be delighted by this series. So much fun!! I hope to touch base with you again to find out what you thought of the books.

    1. Hi Hellie, Well, I read both of the books that I got from the library, and I must say that I absolutely loved them. I loved India and her wit, French is swoon worthy, and that little imp Vincent is a light-fingered little rascal. I checked Amazon and saw that there are six books in this series. Two of them are e-books, and the other two paperback. Therefore, I checked EBay and found the two print books there, so ordered those today. I can't wait to receive them. I just hope that India and French get together romantically.

  5. OH WOW! I already love this series and this author. I am a fan of history - British history as much as US history. This does sound like a lovely book. And of course you have given me another new to me author. Thank you.

  6. I will have to look into this series. I love to read history that is fairly accurate.

  7. I checked and there are 6 books in this series on Amazon. It sounds like a great series. I checked her facebook page and there are no entries since 2014. In the Community section, there were many comments asking about new books. She finally answered saying sh started a new job and as of now there will be no new India Black. She was starting a new book about a WWII female OSS agent. That was back in 2016 and there has been nothing since.

    1. Thanks for the update! I did some searches but kept turning up dead ends. I'm glad you were able to run her to ground (so to speak, apologies for the stalkerishness of my desire to know if there will be more books), so I'm sorry that this is the end of this series, but if she does do a series about a WWII OSS agent (ala Peggy Carter) I would be all over that! But I get that she had to start a new job. I know this business is rough...I just can't believe this book was basically "mid-listed" and didn't take off more. I find it weird I heard nothing about this book until way after the fact. I feel like this is like FIREFLY of the writing world. *LOL*