I simply love these books and when the latest arrived through my letterbox a few weeks ago I squealed with delight.. Carol sends them to me from the USA and I am so grateful to her for doing so and when I saw the familiar name and the cover, I gave up my plans for the day and just sat down and read until it was done. This is the fourth in the series and by this time, if you are a aficionado like me, you know all about the background, the characters and the slowly unfolding story of India's birth and childhood.
India runs Lotus House and is one of London's most respected madams. She gave up practising the trade herself many years ago and now supervises her collection of 'bints' making sure they are fed well, kept under control and free from any nasty lurgy they might pass on to their high class clients. She is successful and intelligent and, since her first encounter with French, a spy who works for the British Government, has found that the running of Lotus House is a tad boring and so is eager for adventure. The fact that she and French have a mutual attraction, as yet unsatisfied, keeps her on tenterhooks and makes for a tension and frisson that she finds very stimulating.
India has been involved with Russian spies, foiled an assassination of Queen Victoria and spent time undercover in a gang of anarchists who are busy blowing up leading figures in the British government, so she now feels she is a pretty seasoned spy. In the latest title India Black and the Gentleman Thief, one of her customers, Colonel Francis Mayhew forwards a seemingly innocent shipping bill to India, an action she finds puzzling. Shortly after this three thugs beat down her door, steal the envelope and give her and French a nasty hiding. So of course India being India decides to find out what is going on as she doesn't take kindly to this kind of behaviour. And then they find Colonel Mayhew has been killed and in an extremely unpleasant manner....
I love these books and I love the wit and the style with which they are written. India is a lovely character, full of common sense and pretty formidable, but warm and affectionate as well though she takes care to keep this hidden.
"I despise wasting time unless I'm choosing how to do it. That is to say, lolling in front of a fire on a misty autumn day with a decanter of brandy at hand is a perfectly acceptable way to pass the hours, as is imbibing a flute of champagne on a warm summer's evening. But standing hunched in a shop entrance endeavouring to blend into the woodwork is hard going......I confess to daydreaming a bit, planning a quiet evening with French......when I felt the object of my thoughts stiffen beside me. I do not mean that in the biblical sense....."
And now the good, the very very good news. The India Black books are being published in the UK by Titan and the first two titles India Black and India Black and the Widow of Windsor are now available with more to follow. Please, I beg you, give yourself a treat and buy them. If you like a rattling good yarn, Victorian smog and dangerous corners, a luscious heroine and a dashing handsome protagonist then these are for you. As I have already said, I love the author's style, full of wit and panache, never a dull moment in the entire series.
Already looking forward to the next one.
Here is a link to my review of these two books when I was lucky enough to be sent them back in 2012. My view have not changed!