Sunday, September 11, 2011
India Black & the Widow of Windsor: Review
Carol K. Carr has done it again! In the second novel of her Madam of Espionage Mysteries, India Black and the Widow of Windsor, Carr has given us a rip-roaring adventure in the Scottish Highlands. Queen Victoria, aka the Widow of Windsor, still in deep mourning for her beloved Prince Albert, consults regularly with mediums to keep in contact with the dearly departed. When she tries out a new spiritualist who has recently gained fame in the higher echelons of society, her husband tells her that nothing would make him so happy as her spending the Christmas holidays at their Scottish home in Balmoral.
Dizzy--Prime Minister Disraeli--receives intelligence that suggests that Scottish nationalists will use this departure from the Queen's usual schedule to make an attempt on her life. There are rumors of a Marischal--a master mind--who has been stirring up the Scottish sentiment and pushing them to rebellion. Dizzy has been asked to accompany the Queen on her holiday journey and he requests that French and India come along as undercover agents to try and get to the bottom of any plotting going on. French makes his way into the higher levels of society--posing as a rich dilettante--while India becomes a maid to one of the Queen's guests. Along for the ride is Vincent, that irrepressible street urchin, transformed into a stable boy. Our trio soon finds that there are several members of the Queen's household and guests who may have reason to harbor Scottish sympathies...but will they be able to find the mastermind behind the operation in time to save the Queen?
Carr's strongest point, as in her first novel, is characterization. India, French, and Vincent are as interesting as ever. Their interactions--both with each other and the other characters in the novel--make the story for me. It is very amusing to watch the strong-minded India serve in the role of lady's maid to the equally strong-minded Dowager Marchioness of Tullibardine. Speaking of....the marchioness nearly steals the show. She is a very unique character with certain, shall we say interesting habits. She is intelligent, shrewd, hilarious, and endearing in her own up-front and out-there kind of way. I certainly hope she makes future appearances in this absolutely delightful series.
I particularly enjoy the way Carr allows India to evolve. Unlike some series, India does not have one espionage adventure (in the first book) and suddenly become perfect in the ways of spying. Street smarts go a long way, but there is still much to learn in the world of espionage. She is still impetuous and leaping before she looks--making mistakes on her way to the final solution. It is a much more realistic way to handle the character. I can't wait for future installments! Especially since Carr has let drop a few more hints about both French's personal life and India's past--I want to know more. Four and a half stars. [Actually finished 9/10/11]
[Disclaimer: This book was sent to me as an advanced reader copy. My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...This review copy was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]