India Black

( 29 )

Overview

Read India Black's blog and other content on the Penguin Community.

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 ...

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Overview

Read India Black's blog and other content on the Penguin Community.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1876, Carr's breezy, fast-paced debut introduces feisty India Black, who runs a London brothel catering to gentlemen, many of whom recognize the reference to the Tennyson poem in the brothel's name, Lotus House. When a patron turns up dead at Lotus House, India plots to dump the corpse elsewhere to preserve her business's reputation, but her efforts are interrupted by the shadowy Mr. French, who assumes responsibility for disposal of the body. In exchange, India agrees to go undercover at the behest of the prime minister himself, Benjamin Disraeli, to prevent highly sensitive documents that the victim was carrying from falling into the wrong hands. The dead man proves to have been Sir Archibald Latham, of the War Office, and the missing documents regard England's readiness to fight the Russians in the Balkans. Readers should be prepared for formulaic plot twists involving numerous escapes and gunfights. (Jan.)
Library Journal
When a War Office official dies in a London brothel, the chief concern of the madam, India Black, is discreet disposal of the body. Unfortunately, the important papers he carried have disappeared, along with a prostitute who is a Russian operative. Enter French, a spy for Prime Minister Disraeli, who threatens to shut down India's establishment unless she helps recover the documents. Disraeli explains the need to hide Britain's military weakness from the Russians to deter them from invading the Ottoman Empire. Loss of face might also bring his archrival, Gladstone, to power. Most of the novel revolves around India's and French's complex and generally unsuccessful plots to outwit their Russian counterparts. An extended chase over snowy countryside in worsening weather draws India and French closer physically, while they continue verbal sparring. They are shadowed by Victor, a resourceful but malodorous street urchin who pops up at opportune moments. India punctuates her account with caustic comments about men, morals, and politics and disparaging remarks about the "bints" she employs. Her closing comments hint at sequels.Verdict More espionage than mystery, this debut novel will appeal to readers who favor action over detection and clever narrative voice above introspection.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Library Journal
When a War Office official dies in a London brothel, the chief concern of the madam, India Black, is discreet disposal of the body. Unfortunately, the important papers he carried have disappeared, along with a prostitute who is a Russian operative. Enter French, a spy for Prime Minister Disraeli, who threatens to shut down India's establishment unless she helps recover the documents. Disraeli explains the need to hide Britain's military weakness from the Russians to deter them from invading the Ottoman Empire. Loss of face might also bring his archrival, Gladstone, to power. Most of the novel revolves around India's and French's complex and generally unsuccessful plots to outwit their Russian counterparts. An extended chase over snowy countryside in worsening weather draws India and French closer physically, while they continue verbal sparring. They are shadowed by Victor, a resourceful but malodorous street urchin who pops up at opportune moments. India punctuates her account with caustic comments about men, morals, and politics and disparaging remarks about the "bints" she employs. Her closing comments hint at sequels.Verdict More espionage than mystery, this debut novel will appeal to readers who favor action over detection and clever narrative voice above introspection.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Kirkus Reviews

A clever madam finds herself defending Her Majesty Queen Victoria's government from international intrigue.

India Black is the proprietress of Lotus House, an upscale London brothel serving the finest of England's civil servants and military men. When one such upstanding gentleman, known as Bowser, keels over dead in the midst of a particularly embarrassing session, India aims to leave his body for discovery far from her house with the help of Vincent, a filthy street urchin. They're stopped in their tracks by a dark, handsome stranger, Bowser's colleague at the War Office, who's happy to help remove the corpse to a slightly less disreputable setting so long as they turn over a portfolio of government documents Bowser had on him. But Bowser's case has gone missing, along with his tart. This development bodes ill for England—so ill that India is grabbed off the street and brought to Prime Minister Disraeli's office to hatch a plan to retrieve the case from the Russian embassy. With the help of Vincent, a fellow lady of the evening, and the handsome gentleman from the War Office, India dodges Cossacks and a meddlesome vicar, proving herself resourceful, stubborn and amusingly cynical, even as she risks death for the gratitude of her country, plus a new gown and furs.

With a heroine reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacyseries, this saucy debut is a satisfying amusement, with the happy promise of more to come.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425238660
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Series: Madam of Espionage Series , #1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 271,622
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

After a career as an attorney and a corporate executive, Carol K. Carr turned to writing. India Black is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2012

    4.5 Stars

    It's been a long time since I read a good mystery novel set in a historical background, the only gripes I have with this book is that is was too short, and that there aren't more of them.

    Plus I'd like to see more of India and French's interactions of course :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2011

    Great, fun book!

    Great sequel to the first India Black novel! Great mix of humor and adventure. Characters are well written. Check it out if you like historical murder mysteries. I can't wait for the next installment in this series!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2011

    Great story and wonderful chacters.

    The plot equals some of the best murder mystery writers I know. Written in beautiful English prose and chacters are perfectly described for an excellent feeling of 1875 England. I will be looking for a sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    India Black, the owner and manager of the high-class brothel cal

    India Black, the owner and manager of the high-class brothel called the Lotus House, seems an unlikely candidate for being called upon to aid Queen Victoria's government in international espionage.  However, when a VIP carrying even more important papers dies in her establishment, she finds herself embroiled in a plot to keep said papers from reaching the Russians.  Teaming up with secret agent French and street urchin/mastermind/tornado Vincent, will India save her country and manage to stay alive in the process?

    Despite her line of work, you can't help but like India Black.  She is truly a woman of mystery, and she makes no apologies for her profession.  We learn very little about her past.  How did she end up being a prostitute and, ultimately, a madame?  French tries to draw her out, but she doesn't take the bait, and you can never be quite certain about anything she does say about her past.  I'm hoping that more is revealed in future volumes. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Madam turns spy

    Enjoyed reading this. I like historical fiction and this has several real people involved. Several words I had to look up since they were terms used in 19th century England, but I learned some new words. I would recommend this book.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Recommended

    India Black is a very interesting character a Madame that does not ply her trade and an astutue if not always correct judge of people. The premise of this mystery is well founded and a view of another generation of spys before internet, satellites and cell phones. While the story was good it took several pages to draw me, the characters seemed ridged and lacking in personality but that must have been a tribute to the English style of the time because their characters seem to unfold and become more human and definetly more human.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Fast paced adventure, well developed characters, and an interesting take on the world of victorian spys, I have already ordered and received the next installment of the India Black series. This would make an interesting discussion book...there are so many twist, turns and bizarre situations that would provide lively discussions.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    nice read but...

    India Black was a nice read on my Nook, but the parenthesis text stopped me dead in my tracks from flowing with the story and being there. The 'old world' flavor was switched, like a TV channel, every time India expressed a side-bar opinion. I think her editor should have worked on this a bit more to help make this a five star review instead of a three star. other than that, the writing was good and you felt the adventure most of the time.

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    review taken from One Book At A Time

    Everything about this book caught my eye. The cover drew me in and the description made me add it to my to-read list. I was more than happy to review it when I was contacted. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book.

    I've become found of books set in Victorian England. There's something about it that draws me in. India Black fits right into that time period. I loved that she's a Madame. She's proud of it and makes no apologies for who she is. She also tells it like it is. I think it makes quite a few men turn there heads throughout the story. I also enjoyed her relationship with French. Their banter was amusing. I was never quite sure if there was sexual tension there or not though.

    I thought it was amusing that the government turns to her for help. I'm thinking they got more than the bargained for. She's obviously not the most diplomatic of choices and her mannerisms and thought process make for some funny situations. I like how the adventure takes them all the way to France. Nothing seems to work in there favor even in the end really.

    I think this could possibly turn into a series. Things aren't answered completely. I would love to see what India has in store for us next!

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  • Posted December 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    QUITE A TALE

    Set in 1876, we are introduced to India Black, the madam of Lotus House, a London brothel, where gentleman of of very high rank in government and military are welcomed daily. Unfortunately one of the clients dies while with one of the "bints" and India needs to dispose of the body so that the reputation of Lotus House is not besmirched.

    But this client is extremely well connected and had in his possession some information many people wanted and it disappeared while India was making plans to dump the body. As did the lady he was with when he died. This makes India Black the interest of many people both from the British government but also the Russian government as well. She agrees to go undercover for the "Brits" to try to recover the information and insure it does not fall into the wrong hands.

    I LOVED IT!!!!!

    I truly enjoyed this tale. I am not usually a fan of historical stories, but this one grabbed my interest and didn't let go. India Black is a formidable woman with a quick wit and stubborn streak a mile long. She is definitely an unusual protagonist and the rest of the characters are equally fascinating.

    It is hard to believe this is a debut novel from this author. Her writing style is very advanced and captivating. The entire story is written from the first person point of view with India telling us her story. Several times she states "I will not bore you with the details..." or "I digress", making you feel as if she is sitting in your living room telling you this harrowing story for your enjoyment. At points she is very serious and in others she is downright funny in her narration of events.

    I am interested in where the author plans to take this character as I assume this is just the beginning of a series featuring this character, but am also interested in anything else this author may write. She has made a great debut and I hope she is hard at work on her next adventure, may it be with India or a new heroine. This is definitely a new author to watch.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from Berkley Prime Crime, a Division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Carol K. Carr provides an engaging thriller

    In the winter 0f 1876, London is freezing; but the arctic like weather does not prevent customers from going to the Lotus House brothel owned by India Black. She is a cheerful woman with wit and a true knowledge of human depravity. This does not disturb her in the slightest as she knows how her world acts. Her life becomes complicated when one of her patrons, Bowser AKA Sir Archibald Latham serving high up in the War Office dies while with the whore Arabella.

    When India tries to dispose of the corpse, she is caught by French, an agent who works for Prime Minster Disraeli. Rather than go to gaol, she agrees to give him the case that Bauer brought with him. However that is missing as is Arabella. French needs to retrieve it as it contains British troop strengths that the Russians want because they plan to invade the Ottoman Empire. When they go to the hotel Russians accost them with Arabella as one of them. French is determined to obtain the papers and India is resolute in her assisting him.

    This exhilarating espionage epic does for the mid Victorian England what Peter Tremayne has done for ancient Ireland; bring the period alive to the time traveling armchair warrior. The lead pair is dynamic together as their chemistry proves the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in spite of her being lower class and him an aristocrat. The recovery story line readers like a fast-paced mystery with plenty of international intrigue including a horrendous Channel crossing to France. Carol K. Carr provides an engaging thriller in whict hopefully is the opening act of a unique nineteenth century collaboration.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 7, 2011

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