India Black and the Widow of Windsor is a delightful romp, a mix of adventure, comedy and just a touch of sexual tension.
Prime Minister Disraeli believes that a group of Scottish nationalists is planning to kill Queen Victoria while she spends the holidays in the highlands at Balmoral Castle. He sends along French, the sexy James Bond-type spy, and India Black, the madam of the Lotus House who has proved herself a resourceful woman before. French is to be a guest and will keep an eye on the aristocracy; India, on the other hand, is to mingle with the servants, working as a lady’s maid for an eccentric, elderly Marchioness. They both have the same goal, though, keep the Queen safe and find the assassin.
India is a brash, unrepentant woman. We get to hear the conversations she is a part of, or overhears, but we also are privy to her internal monologues which are biting, sarcastic and practical too. She’s not a woman everyone would like, she’s insulting, mean and thinks way too highly of herself, but she’s an original and I at least have to admire her. Acting like a servant does not come easy to her and her interactions with the Marchioness, an interesting woman in her own right, are priceless.
I missed French in this one. He’s around, but I like him and India on stage together, and on this adventure one’s upstairs and one’s downstairs so they don’t get to meet often enough for me. Although when they do the chemistry’s obvious. French is still pretty much a mystery, though; I really hope he doesn’t turn out to be married or something.
The whoddunit, or who will do it, is not the strong point of the book, at least for me. It’s not that I figured it out, it’s that I didn’t really care. I just enjoy following India and French, sharing in their escapade. This is certainly a fun read, with a bit of history peppered in.
You don’t need to have read India Black to enjoy this one. India gives you the concise version of the story in her honest, to-the point way, but you’ll be missing a great introduction to the characters.
4 out of 5 stars
Category: Mystery & Detective
Madam of Espionage #2
Published October 4, 2011 by Berkley Prime Crime
Book source: For review
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