All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

India Black And The Shadows Of Anarchy – Carol K. Carr

on April 6, 2013

India BlackIndia Black And The Shadows Of Anarchy (Madam Of Espionage #3)
Carol K. Carr
Berkely Publishing Group
2013, 314p
Read from my local library

India Black runs Lotus House a brothel in London and she has standards. Her girls are clean, well fed, well paid and the drink is good and plentiful (but only when they’re working). She keeps her girls content and far less likely to do business on their own. Her clientele are also of a high standard and they pay well for the little extras at Lotus House.

But India has also been known to help out on little matters of national security assisting the mysterious spy French in his work for Prime Minister Disraeli. This time however, French is strangely absent and it seems that Disraeli has decided that it’s time for India to branch out into solo work. He wants her to infiltrate a group of anarchists who call themselves the Dark Legion. Due to her day job, they believe that India has a way in – they know of a prostitute currently working for another brothel that they believe to have connections to the Dark Legion. They want India to lure her away to work at Lotus House and use that to engineer a connection to the group who are getting closer and closer to causing mass carnage in London with their plans to overthrow the aristocracy. They’ve already killed several people in single incidents and it seems likely that their missions will escalate.

This is the third India Black novel and I look forward to each new one. India is such a fun character. She’s kind of the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold deal. Having had to earn her living from that profession herself at one time, she’s used her intelligence to save enough money to open her own establishment and now she runs it with clockwork efficiency which means that she no longer has to serve the customers herself. Despite her brash manner and way of speaking (especially about her ‘sluts’) she does look after them and keep them well and appears to care about them and their needs although she doesn’t particularly let anyone see that. India knows very little about her past, particularly her mother who died after a long illness when she was 12 and she’s been on a quest for this information. Every now and then she receives a tiny tidbit and in this novel, she finally begins getting somewhere.

In the first book, India crossed paths with the enigmatic French and he’s been popping in and out of her life ever since. When this book begins, French has disappeared with only a very brief note to say so. When India gets the call to visit Disraeli on her own she at first assumes French has “cocked something up” and she needs to help him fix it – but then she wonders if perhaps he’s been injured, or worse. I wouldn’t say it’s a romance between the two characters (yet) but it’s definitely an attraction. There’s chemistry and even though India is a former prostitute and not given to the vapours, these are still Victorian times. It’s a slow simmer:

“I haven’t the faintest idea how I got myself into this predicament,” he said.

“I expect it’s because Dizzy-“

“Not the blasted anarchists and their blasted bombs,” he said, nearly shouting. My hand shot out and covered his mouth. He reached up and cupped my hand with his, inclining his head. I felt his lips purse beneath my palm and he planted a gentle kiss there. “You,” he said. “India Black.”

French has always been something of a mystery, both to India and the reader. We know very little about him, including his first name. Quite a bit of that changes in this book but whether or not French confirms what was told to be true or false remains to be seen. What is revealed though, does rather throw a spanner in the works for what will happen between them, although really, not as big a spanner as India was probably expecting.

Of the three books so far, I think this one is my favourite. I really loved the story – I liked seeing India begin to operate as a solo agent, without French, in the beginning of the book. You could tell that she really wanted to succeed and that she really thought about the best way to go about her mission. But I also really like the two of them together even if the author must continue to torture me with too-brief scenes and French’s annoying habit of vanishing. The story with the anarchists worked very well and although I had several questions while I was making my way through the story, at the end, they were all neatly answered which was fabulous.

Actually, the ending was awesome. I thought it was clever and fun and even though I had half a half-baked thought about it at one stage in the novel, I have to admit I didn’t expect it to end the way it did. It really fit in with the feel of the series to have it end that way. These are crime and mystery books but they’re heavily underscored with humour and they’re not really what you’d call dark. And the last page has made the anticipation for Book #4 all the more now. I do wonder just how India is going to find out what she wants to know and why that particular person has the information – and why they’ve chosen to keep it from her until now.

The worst thing about finishing one is knowing it’s going to be so long until the next one.

9/10

Book #78 of 2013

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2 responses to “India Black And The Shadows Of Anarchy – Carol K. Carr

  1. Marg says:

    I really look forward to finding out more about French!

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