Monday, October 03, 2011

India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr

In January, when I reviewed Carol K. Carr’s first Madam of Espionage Mystery, India Black, I said it appeared the historical mystery series would promise suspense, entertainment, and delightful characters. Carr didn’t disappoint her readers with the second book, India Black and the Widow of Windsor. It’s another delightful adventure, this time in Queen Victoria’s Scotland.

In fact, it’s because of Queen Victoria that India Black, a madam who owns an elegant establishment that caters to the upper echelon of the civil service, minor aristocracy and military officers, goes undercover to Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish home. A medium encouraged the Queen to head there for Christmas, convincing her that her beloved Albert had told her to go there. Prime Minister Disraeli suspects a plot by Scottish nationalists to assassinate the Queen. He calls on his spy, French, along with India, and the street urchin, Vincent, and sends them to Scotland to uncover a plot and save the Queen.

India had been a little bored with her business lately, but this current adventure isn’t quite what she had in mind. She’s out of her element, acting as lady’s maid to the Queen’s cousin, the Dowager Marchioness of Tullarbardine. And, it’s a formidable task, dealing with the eccentric old woman and her snuff. India, French, and Vincent have their hands full, trying to root out traitors.

Once again, Carr manages to combine historical personages with intriguing fictional characters in a successful mystery that combines elements of Upstairs, Downstairs and a spy novel. We learn quite a bit about the lives of servants as India struggles to investigate while carrying out her duties. And, it’s not easy for her to avoid the clutches of Bertie, the Prince of Wales, as she scurries down corridors in search of clues.

Humor, history, great characters, including the Dowager Marchioness, and the young scamp, Vince.  Add in a little sexual tension between India and French. Don’t worry if you haven’t read India Black. Start with India Black and the Widow of Windsor. Carr provides all the background ingredients, adding a mix of new characters and a new setting.  It’s a recipe for a terrific historical mystery.

(And, be sure to come back later this week when India Black gets the chance to introduce herself to readers.)

Carol K. Carr's website is

India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr. Berkley Prime Crime. ©2011. ISBN 9780425243190 (paperback), 309p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review - I remember reading India Black and enjoying it. Somehow I missed seeing that the second book is due out.

Mickie T

Beth Hoffman said...

I've been on a mystery kick lately and this one sounds interesting. Nice to know I don't need to start with the previous book!

Have a great week, Lesa!

Liz V. said...

Have seen this but been unsure. Thanks for your advice.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Liz. I'm going to booktalk it to the librarians later this month. I know some who are fans of Victorian England will enjoy it.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Mickie. I'm glad you liked the first one. The second is just as good.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth! You have a great week as well. No, you really don't need to start with the earlier book.

Stephanie @ Read In a Single Sitting said...

Thanks for the review, Lesa. I haven't read many historical mysteries (other than the odd bit of Gabaldon), so this might be a good introduction for me.:)