India Black: A Madam of Espionage Mystery

Written by Carol K. Carr
Review by Viviane Crystal

Madam India Black spends most of her time keeping her prostitutes from spending too lavishly to satisfy her upper-end British customers and keeping at bay a young, do-gooder minister who would like all of India’s girls or “bints” to convert to Christianity. But Reverend Calthorp fails to realize India’s girls make triple or more than they would as cleaners, governesses or shop assistants. India’s narrative voice is full of raucous humor that will delight the reader throughout the entire novel. That feistiness is about to be tested, however, when one of the customers dies after his usual night of titillating behavior dressed up in female lacy dresses with an extra zesty device. Knowing this death could finish her lucrative business, India plans to have the dead “Bowser” secretly spirited away to a different scene, a shady plot tough to carry out undetected in London’s seedier quarter in 1876. But everything goes awry from this point forward, as it turns out that Bowser was really a War Office representative carrying very secret papers in his case which seem to have disappeared.

The race is on to recover those sensitive documents; higher powers determine that India is just the person for the task. In the wrong hands, those papers most certainly could cause an international war involving Russia, England and Turkey. The stakes and pressure are high, and the novel now becomes a thriller as India and French, a British spy, infiltrate the Russian embassy and hit other storms all the way to and along the English Channel. Murder and mayhem abound as the stakes get higher and those attempting the same goal rush to the finish line. India Black is one very funny, spicy, and smart sleuth who hopefully will appear again in another delightful espionage mystery.