Where to start with India Black?
If you’re expecting a very correct Victorian novel, do not pick this up. You will be disappointed and annoyed. The language, in particular, is not true to the period and will drive purists crazy.
That said, I absolutely loved this book, which, I’m excited to find, is the first in a series!
The novel begins with the fabulous sentence “My name is India Black. I am a whore.” Actually, she’s the madame of Lotus House, and she’s thoroughly comfortable with her lifestyle. But her world is turned upside down when a government minister dies at her house–a government minister who was carrying some very sensitive documents that would disgrace the British government and prime minister Benjamin Disraeli. With the future of Lotus House in jeopardy, India has no choice but to help the government and retrieve the case filled with memoranda. An adventure in espionage ensues as India and Disraeli’s right hand man French follow the documents from the Russian Embassy, to Claridges Hotel, to the coast.
One of the blurbs at the back of the book called India Black a mix of Fanny Hill and Nancy Drew, and that pretty much hits the nail on the head. India is a heroine who doesn’t beat around the bush, and the thrilling story is perfectly punctuated by India’s observations and asides. I also liked that India didn’t come into the case as a ready-made spy; she used her street smarts to get through many a tough situation, but she still had to learn the subtleties of spying. And the twists and turns of the story kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
This is a really well done debut by Carol K. Carr. I can’t wait for the next one!