Author: Carol K. Carr
Genre: Fiction (Historical / Victoriana / London / Historical Figures Fictionalized / Anarchists / Madam)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley (2/5/2013)
Source: The publisher / NetGalley
Rating: Liked a great deal -- nearly loved!
Did I finish?: Oh yes I did.
Reading Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: I do -- I'm rather partial to the model they use, and I'm grateful we see all of her (including the top of her head!).
First line: "It's a damned shame," proclaimed Lord Wickard, Earl of Ebbechester, and a power in the land, "when a feller can't feel safe in his own country."
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy if you're an India fan!
Why did I get this book?: I never say no to India.
Review: It is no secret I love India Black. This third full length adventure with India has the elements I adored from the first book and stokes my love for this dark-haired madam slash spy.
Our girl India is back in London after her stint in Scotland working undercover as a lady's maid. Just when boredom sets in, India is enlisted by Dizzy (aka Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister) to infiltrate an anarchist cell in London.
Her usual spy companion, French, is mysteriously assigned elsewhere (which elicited a big sigh from me -- oh, how I love that French!) and India is determined to show Dizzy and French that she can be spy extraordinaire without his help.
To get in with the anarchists, India lures a prostitute from another brothel, inspiring ire from her competing madam, and she has to juggle brothel feuds with convincing a group of paranoid anarchists that she's the real deal. Around all that, she tries to learn more about her mother and ascertain just what is going on with French. There's the usual delicious banter, bouncing action, and hint of romance that I adore.
In addition to the snark and antics I just love in Carr's novel, this book was a particular winner for me in that the story returned squarely to India and her profession. While I enjoyed the second novel, I thought that by sending India away from her brothel, it became easy to ignore her work-- and I was a little afraid India was going to be whitewashed. I shouldn't have worried: India is back in all her tawdry glory. While Carr doesn't delve into any salacious or sexy details, she also doesn't pretend India hasn't turned tricks herself. And I love that about India and Carr's articulation of her: there's no shame in India about what she does.
For India Black fans, this is a welcome volume featuring all that is fabulous in Carr's series: our deliciously lovely heroine, an action-filled mystery, a little romantic intrigue with a dashing government spy, witty banter, handguns and whiskey. If you're new to India Black, immediately get yourself the first book (named after our heroine) and read on to this one! (While Carr explains enough of books one and two for someone to follow along, you'll be happier with the twists if you've read the previous two!)
As with all of Carr's novels, the moment I'm done I'm dying for more, and this one was no exception. I'm just going to sigh away in a corner and await India's next adventure with bated breath.