The Judas Kiss

The Judas Kiss - Victoria Holt [These notes were made in 1984:]. Standard junk fare. Has more of a plot than the Rosemary Rogers variety, and considerably less sex. But the characters are artificial and made of cardboard, and the solution to the moral dilemma of the book - when is adultery not adultery? - sidestepped by the coincidences of the solved mystery. The juxtaposition of settings - island paradise of childhood vs. "Greystone" of repressive, domestic England vs. romantic Bruxenstein (Germanic, complete with labyrinthine forests and suicidal precipices) - is interesting, but not developed in any dramatic sort of way. Chief weakness of the story is perhaps the first-person narration - although it is the easiest way to build suspense and mystery, the heroine seems curiously remote and we don't get enough emotion (described, yes; depicted, no) at horrific events like the murder of her sister. A pleasant enough little costumer, enough to while away a couple of lazy hours, but shallow. Rather heavily influenced by Jane Eyre, I should think. Pippa (as in Browning) Ewell; Francine Ewell, Conrad (alias Sigmund) - the Teutonic lover; Freya (the girlish countess); Cousin Arthur; Tatiana (the villainess). Plot revolves around the succession of power in Bruxenstein, depending on the validity of the marriage of, and existence of heir from, Francine and her husband Rudolph (both murdered).