Guilty Knowledge

Clare Curzon, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-26169-6
Departing from her successful Thames Valley mystery series, Curzon tells with her usual elegance an intriguing tale of two very different women at the turn of the 20th century. Eugenie, Viscountess Crowthorne, and her sister-in-law, Lady Isabelle Delmayne, share an intricate seven-year relationship involving intimate secrets, blackmail and murder. The discovery of the body of an unknown foreigner near the family estate forces Eugenie to reflect on the possibly tragic consequences of the past. Fresh from school, Eugenie had accompanied the newly widowed Isabelle on a tour of the Continent. Only a few months go by after this tour before Eugenie learns the extent to which Isabelle will go to protect her own reputation at the expense of others, sacrificing even Eugenie's budding romance with an army officer in Egypt. The deceitful Isabelle blackmails Eugenie into helping disguise an illicit pregnancy and later into covering up the possible murder of an Italian doctor who knows too much. When Isabelle's child, Lucy, whom Eugenie adores, becomes a bargaining chip, Eugenie must make some painful personal decisions. The despicable Isabelle retains a few redeeming qualities, while the na ve Eugenie develops into a discerning young woman. The identity of the dead man and his murderer, revealed at the climax, is almost secondary to the fascinating character study. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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