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Bleeding Heart Square Hardcover – March 3, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British author Taylor (An Unpardonable Crime) springs a number of well-timed and well-planned surprises in this briskly paced thriller set in November 1934. Fed up with the slights and slaps of her husband, well-to-do Lydia Langstone decides to room temporarily with her father, whom she hasn't seen since she was a toddler, in his seedy boarding house in London's Bleeding Heart Square. Lydia soon finds out that papa is in the pocket of landlord Joseph Serridge, a darkly charismatic man skilled at manipulating others. Serridge is being investigated by another tenant, journalist Rory Wentwood, for his involvement in the disappearance of Philippa Penhow, the house's former owner. As Lydia helps Rory in his delvings, she uncovers a tangled skein of scandal and deadly intrigues stretching back decades and involving many of those near and dear to her. A hasty finale is the only misstep in this otherwise satisfying period piece. (Mar.)
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Review

"A compelling and suspenseful evocation of London in that uneasy period before WWII. In Lydia Langstone, Andrew Taylor has created a protagonist of her time, an intelligent woman coming to terms with her growing sense of self. Intricately plotted and beautifully crafted."―Margaret Maron, author of Death's Half Acre and Hard Row

"It's easy to see why Andrew Taylor's historical mysteries have won so many accolades. The square itself emerges as a major player in this atmospheric, elegantly told mystery, in which you, the reader, are assigned the role of detective."―Rhys Bowen, Agatha, Anthony and MacAvity award-winning author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mystery series

"Finely drawn period atmosphere, compellingly complex characters, breath-stopping suspense, then twists that will leave you reeling. Taylor is a riveting storyteller, and Bleeding Heart Square may be his best work yet. Absolutely bloody brilliant!!"―Deborah Crombie
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302866
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401302863
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,173,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kristen Hannum on July 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There's nothing better than a good mystery - unless it's a good historical novel, and Andrew Taylor has crafted both in Bleeding Heart Square. The characters are creatures of their era, sometimes maddeningly reserved, not quite modern but with telephones and cars. The two main protagonists evolve wonderfully because of choices each is making, and there are also two wicked villains to compete for your attention, both of them with designs on the heroine.
I was able to guess one of the twists that came clear towards the end - so satisfying, that - and was surprised at the other - also satisfying.

Pay attention here to the negative reviews. If you prefer characters dashing from explosions and shoot-outs to sex every few paragraphs - this probably isn't the one for you.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy intelligent, complex characters and meticulous plotting, then Bleeding Heart Square is a winner.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Using the diary of a woman who disappeared 4 years prior, the author sets up a mystery that keeps the reader guessing right up until the very end. Bleeding Heart Square is a dreary cul-de-sac in London that is home to a collection of seedy and vile characters. The superstitions and legends concerning Bleeding Heart Square create a climate of suspicion and violence among the residents.

The heroine is Lydia Langstone, an "almost 30" lady of the manor who flees an abusive husband to live with her estranged and alcoholic father. The hero is Rory Wentwood, a jilted and unemployed journalist turned private detective. These two people examine the disappearance of P.M. Penhow, who disappeared four years earlier and was the previous owner of the building in Bleeding Heart Square, in which they both live. Their efforts begin independent of each other, but as the story progresses, they work together to try to find out what happened. The villain is Joseph Serridge, landlord to both of our heroes and an imposing and powerful figure, both physically and politically.

I must say that I was completely surprised by the ending. While the main characters uncover a lot of information and learn more than they bargained for in other areas, they never do find out what happened to Miss Penhow. The reader does, however, and in a very unexpected way.

There are several story lines at work throughout the book. The personal stories of each character are woven into the whole of the story, but the appearance of the Facist Party in England and the relationships of characters both past and present keep the reader on his toes and guessing at what will happen next. Each chapter begins with an exerpt from P.M. Penhow's diary with comments made by in the second person to "you.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Sadly, there wasn't nearly enough mystery and the novel didn't start to pick up steam until page 300 or so. At first, I thought the stagnating plot might be a clever device. That Talyor was winding down a spring, building up tension that would inevitably explode into a fast paced novel. But, sadly, that was not the case. Taylor kept winding and winding. And the not-quite-big-enough explosion when it occurred waited until the very end of the book.

Perhaps Taylor simply wound things up too much and the spring snapped. Most readers probably do not have the patience to wade through all this prose or have the fishing boots to wade for that long. And by the time you get to the end, the impending danger didn't seem dangerous enough and the mystery seemed somewhat predictable and not all that mysterious.

And that's a pity. Taylor is really quite a gifted writer. His writing is rich and his prose is elegant. He has a keen eye for detail and fleshing out believable characters. The descriptions are never forced, but really add incredible dimension. When Lydia Langstone enters her house at the beginning of the novel he describes it as a 'dirty wedding cake.' In one simile he gives us a visual image of the building, insight into the state of Lydia's marriage, and conveys Lydia's feelings about coming home. This is potent stuff and Taylor writes this way throughout the book.

He also has a knack for creating a solid cast of characters and an unexpected, convoluted web that joins their lives together. He even hits the setting, spot on, for a mystery novel. He describes a dreary, 1930s, pre-World War II London with incredible aplomb.
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Format: Hardcover
I finished the book a few hours ago and now I really don't remember much about it. I had considerable expectations from Bleeding Heart Square - not only is it based on a true crime but I have also heard a great deal about Andrew Taylor's books. I am struggling to say what stood out about the book. The truth is nothing did. Bleeding Heart Square, though not memorable, is an easy, entertaining read. Maybe you could read this if you nothing better to read or do.

A major thing that bothered me was that there is no sense of time and place. It's set in 1930s London, but I didn't get the feel of that time period. It might as well have been set in modern times. Sometimes, even the dialogue felt too modern for the 1930s. Many of the characters' actions are also often unrealistic in terms of the time the book is set in. Lydia leaves her husabnd without thinking twice. Could it really be that easy for a woman to leave her husband in the 1930s? Especially a woman like Lydia, an upper-class woman, who is used to a life of comfort and is depenednt on her husband for all luxuries. Neither the setting nor the time are vivid enough. Actually the same goes for the characters too. The characters are tolerable, but so very bland. The plot seemed stagnant at many points with nothing happening for pages and pages. With a well-written suspense novel, my interest is usually piqued within the first ten pages of the book. In case of Bleeding Heart Square, after almost about 100 pages, I was still waiting for the actual plot to start.

The only thing that kept me reading till the end was that I really wanted to find out what happened to Miss Penhow. It's not a very gripping mystery though, and I admit I almost wanted to skip to the last few pages.
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