THE JUDAS KISS by Victoria Holt
Kirkus Star


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This time Holt's cosily confidential suspense formula--a slowly unraveling mystery, a scattering of gothic goose-bumps, straightforward amour--is set in vaguely mid-Victorian England and a small German state. And the heroine is young orphan Pippa--who, with older sister Francine, must leave an idyllic childhood on a Mediterranean island and go to Greystone, the preserve of their grim, pious, joy-crushing grandfather, Sir Matthew Warden. (He disowned their father and condemned meek daughter Grace to single subservience.) Worse yet, in order to secure property, Grandfather is planning to marry Francine to that oily clergyman, Cousin Arthur. So Francine elopes with one of the mysterious German aristocrats at neighboring Granter's Grange: Baron Rudolph Fuchs, who turns out to be the heir of the ruler of the principality of Bruxenstein. Alas, Pippa will never see Francine again--though she does receive letters (which tell of Francine's child). And she's shocked and confused when, four years later, she reads the German death notice announcing the murder of Rudolph and his ""mistress,"" Francine. Meanwhile, too, Grandfather has been trying to foist slimy Arthur on Pippa--and when he dies in a fire following an apparent blow on the head, it's hinted that Pippa is responsible. So she now leaves Greystone for good (there's also a thwarted romance with Granter's Grange ""equerry"" Conrad), traveling to Bruxenstein to investigate Francine's death and establish her missing child's legitimacy: Pippa becomes English tutor to the lively young Countess Freya, who's affianced to marry the new Bruxenstein heir, Sigmund. And guess who Sigmund really is? Before love and sleuthing disentangle every knot, there are forays to the murder site, new friends in the forest, stolen raptures, a moment in a mausoleum, and finally a death walk to a suicide cliff. As always--reliable entertainment for the gothic/romance/historical audience.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday