Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Dangerous to Know.
Recovering from their ill-fated wedding trip to Constantinople, Lady Emily and her handsome husband, Colin, find themselves staying at Mrs. Hargreaves' manor house nestled in a tree-filled grove deep in the Normandy region of France, just northwest of Rouen. Emily hopes that Colin’s mother will shower her with the warmth she has showed her son, and that she will rejoice to see her son so happily matched.
Emily vastly underestimates Mrs. Hargreaves' “deliberate difficulties” towards her. The decision to spend as much time as possible away from the woman’s prickling discomfort leads Emily to the unhappy resting place of a dead girl sprawled beneath a tree, her blood soaking the ground. No one could have survived the brutal gashes to the throat, the bodice of the girl's dress so black with blood.
None of Emily’s prior experience prepares her for the sight before her. Horrified and stunned, her stomach clenches with the realization that they may be dealing with the perpetrator of the Whitechapel
murders. Courageous Emily is the last woman to abandon herself to fear. Tears flash hot in her eyes and her anger boils in this place that was supposed to offer respite, the story tumbling from her lips into Colin’s loving heart.
Emily, ever the reliable narrator, becomes obsessed with finding the girl’s murderer, winding back on her own thoughts as she tries to pinpoint the moment when something darker began to take place. Even a respite at the château of Mrs. Hargreaves' neighbors, the handsome Madeline and George Markham, does little to calm Emily when she's blindsided by the vision of a little girl appearing in their window. Like a ghostly silhouette, the girl could surely not have been the Markhams’ gardener’s daughter.
From a child in a white dress with a blue ribbon tied in her hair, to a painting stolen from Claude Monet’s studio at Giverny not three days ago, to assignations of madness at a local insane asylum, Emily and Colin turn to the Prier family--most pointedly to Laurent Prier, the fire of anger painting his olive complexion and his eyes turning hard with spite. Luckily Emily’s best friend, champagne-swilling Madame Cecile Du Lac, can prove her worth, offering to help out the investigation by staying in Rouen to observe the Prier family’s strange behavior.
Traveling through the picaresque landscapes of Normandy, Emily and Colin follow the ghostly trail of little girl who died in some sort of sad circumstance. Meanwhile, frustration consumes Emily: images of death remain frozen in her brain while the coldness of Colin’s mother is coupled with the muck of emotions surrounding the baby she lost. Emily must also deal with thief extraordinaire Sebastian Capet, a rare breed of gentleman who returns and is intent to shower his muse with attention and affection.
While the novel lacks the corseted sophistication of Murphy’s Incognito, I found the tale consistently charming. The real magic is in Emily and Colin's marriage, which burrows deep into our hearts while peeling back layers of love. Although Emily doesn’t like being an unequal partner, “or equal but different,” you can be sure this couple will prevail no matter how much Colin tries to distract his wife from the gruesome work at hand.