Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: India Black (Madam of Espionage Mysteries #1) by Carol K. Carr

India Black, madam of a brothel, gets caught up in international espionage after a government official dies in her, er, establishment. She is recruited by the Prime Minister's office to help recover the important papers stolen after the death before they fall into the hands of either two factions who want to use them against Britain/the Prime Minister.

The Stephanie Plum of the 19th century, India Black is headstrong and clever but not always very graceful and it lands her in a number of dangerous yet amusing situations that she handles with dry wit and sarcasm. Hell, she even has her own black sidekick at one point. Then there's the handsome Mr. French, a spy who works for the Prime Minister's office, but he only resembles Ranger with his mysterious background. India has her own secrets though, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series to find out what they are.

I did think the way Vincent, the young street urchin, kept sneaking into the most unlikely places was a little unrealistic, but it didn't play too big of a role in the plot so I was able to overlook it.

I saw a few reviewers saying the "strange" vocabulary like "bint", "cove", and "rogering" used throughout the novel wasn't very historically accurate, but actually, they are. "Bint" is a derogatory British term that dates from the mid 19th century for a woman or girl, like "tart". "Cove" is an informal British term that dates from before the 19th century for a person, especially male. "Rogering" is British slang for having sex and dates from the early 18th century. The authentic language was precisely one of the things I loved about this novel, the author made a good effort to use real slang from the time period. Maybe some readers haven't seen these words used before because most historical novels they read aren't about whores who would use language like that? Or perhaps most historical novelists don't make as great an effort to incorporate authentic language because they don't want to alienate readers so some people aren't used to it (though that's not to say most historical novelists use anachronistic language).

The whole time I was reading the book, I was thinking it would make a great movie. Lot's of adventure and humor, and even the hint of a potential romance in the future. There's not a huge amount of depth, but it is a lot of fun, and sometimes that's just what I'm looking for.

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