Curzon, Clare - Guilty Knowledge
GUILTY KNOWLEDGE from Virago Crime is a novel with a crime driving the narrative rather than a crime novel per se. The book opens with the discovery of a dead 'foreigner' in the grounds of the stately home occupied by the narrator and her family. When the dead man is revealed to be Italian the narrator Eugenie knows that his appearance is due to the events of eight years ago in 1900 when she acted as paid companion to her now sister-in-law, Isabelle.
In 1900, Isabelle, newly widowed, decided to travel around Europe with the companionship of her dressmaker's daughter Eugenie. The pair traveled from France to Germany to Egypt and finally Italy. It is during their time in Egypt that Eugenie discovered the reason for their travel but it was in Italy that Eugenie and Isabelle became irrevocably linked.
The majority of the book is Eugenie recalling those days and allowing the reader to find out what the guilty secrets are that bind Eugenie and Isabelle together. There is interesting commentary on the social mores of the day and irony that events once so scandalous then, are common place now. The narration is at times childlike but this may be due to Eugenie being a na´ve woman who's only just left school. The crime is solved in the final few pages though little remorse is expressed and the motivation by today's standards is slight. An enjoyable read though not as dramatic as the back cover may suggest.
Karen Meek, England