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Bleeding Heart Square Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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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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"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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Top Customer Reviews
Some Amazon reviewers have complained that this novel is too slow. Surely it is too slow for those who expect a mystery to be like an action comic. This develops in a leisurely way as the characters and situations develop in ever more complex ways. It is bifurcated, in that sections of mounting horror in a diary are interspersed with events in the life of a young society matron who leaves her brutal husband and goes to live with her dishonest and impoverished father in Bleeding Heart Square. [And yes, there are echoes here of the Bleeding Heart Yard from Dickens' Little Dorrit, but I think mainly for the gruesome name. And there actually was such a place.] It soon becomes clear that the author of the diary, who is clearly heading for her death, is somehow connected with the house in bleeding Heart Square. Our young matron becomes involved with a journalist who has been drawn into the mystery of the missing diarist -- not that the diary has been found and read by anyone; a part of the mystery is just who it is that is aware of this diary and whose comments introduce each section. In the best mystery fashion, one thing leads to another in a deepening spiral of disaster, all leading to a rousing and unexpected finale.
A minor but interesting aspect of this novel is its inverse Cinderella story: the rich girl finds herself living in near squalor and has to work to earn just enough for bread, tea, and occasional cheap meals at the local hash house. The "Prince Charming" she meets is in love with another, and in any case is unemployed, of a lower class than she, and not all that attractive.