Bleeding Heart Square

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Overview

"It's 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage there is only one person she can turn to - the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at no. 7." "However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts 7 Bleeding Heart Square. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square?
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Overview

"It's 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage there is only one person she can turn to - the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at no. 7." "However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts 7 Bleeding Heart Square. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square? What is making struggling journalist Rory Wentwood so desperate to contact Miss Penhow? And why are parcels of rotting hearts being sent to Joseph Serridge, the last person to see Miss Penhow alive ...?" Legend has it the Devil once danced in Bleeding Heart Square - but is there now a new and sinister presence lurking in its shadows?
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Editorial Reviews

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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Library Journal

In 1934 London, well-born Lydia Langstone finally flees her home after years of abuse by her husband and takes refuge with the father she never knew in his seedy rooms in Bleeding Heart Square. She meets journalist Rory Wentwood, who is investigating the disappearance of Miss Penhow from that very house four years earlier. Rory doubts that the missing woman really moved to New York with a lover. Meanwhile, mysterious packages arrive for the landlord. Why is someone sending him rotting hearts? What does it have to do with Miss Penhow's disappearance? Taylor intersperses entries from Miss Penhow's diary with the present-day storyline. Except for references to fascism and motorcars, this grim novel feels more like it is set in 1834 than 1934. There isn't much of a mystery, the action is slow, and the characters are rather one-dimensional. A disappointment after the author's enjoyable An Unpardonable Crime; recommended only for libraries where Taylor is popular.
—Laurel Bliss

Kirkus Reviews
Brutality lurks just beneath the surface of 1930s England in this absorbing Gothic mystery from British author Taylor (An Unpardonable Crime, 2004, etc.). Three tangled threads weave through the atmospheric story. The reader, forthrightly addressed as "you," is made disconcertingly privy to the secrets memorialized in the diary of Philippa Penhow, a lonely spinster who falls easy prey to the flattery of Major Joseph Serridge. Miss Penhow's tragic, mysterious fate is intertwined with that of the later residents of Bleeding Heart Square, including gracious Lydia Langstone, a fugitive from her prominent, abusive husband; her drunken father, Captain Ingleby-Lewis; and Mr. Fimberry, the shell-shocked assistant sexton of the ancient church in the square. Urged on by the shadowy Mr. Narton, Rory Wentwood investigates Miss Penhow's disappearance in the hopes of claiming her estate for his fiancee, Miss Penhow's niece Fenella. As he proceeds, a chain of sinister coincidences encircles Rory and Lydia, while poverty, fascism and literally bleeding hearts mount at their doorstep. At length all three threads are twisted together in a satisfying resolution that is darkly just but not merciful. A gripping tale whose slow nightmare of terror is made even more resonant by its unimpeachable logic.
Margaret Maron
"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."
Rhys Bowen
"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."
Deborah Crombie
"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!!"
Anne Perry
"A well crafted mystery, told with style."
From the Publisher
"A well crafted mystery, told with style."—Anne Perry"

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"

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"

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401302863
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Taylor is the award winning author of a number of novels. He and his wife live with their children in the Forest of Dean, England. He has been awarded the John Creasey Award from Crime Writers of America, the Scroll from Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Golden Dagger, and the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, as well.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Another Great Book

    This is the second book I've read by this author. Mr. Taylor really knows how to tell a story. The characters are very well developed and the plot never lags. I found myself standing at the counter, wolfing down my meals while reading because I didn't want to waste time setting the table. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dickens would approve

    London socialite Lydia Langstone takes refuge from her abusive husband with her estranged father, who resides at number 7, Bleeding Heart Square. Her new surroundings are daunting to one accustomed to a life of privilege. The landlord, Joseph Serridge, takes quite an interest in Lydia, even setting her up in her first ever job. Among the tenants is Rory Wentworth, an unemployed journalist engaged to the niece of the building's now missing previous owner. Rory has been poking his nose into Serridge's past, at the behest of a local bobby who has a grudge against Serridge and is trying to pin a murder on him.

    The atmosphere of this multi-layered novel is instantly set by the delivery to number 7 of a decaying animal heart wrapped in brown paper. The year is 1935, in the midst of the depression, and England is struggling to recover from the aftereffects of WWI. Local Fascists are trying to gain control of England's government, and they are not averse to using violence. The seedy neighborhood and a myriad of slightly creepy characters contribute to the sense of menace, and chapter by chapter, the suspense ratchets up a notch. Lydia is slowly drawn into the action, only gradually realizing how much of her life till now has been heavily wrapped in secrets.

    Author Taylor has been compared to Dickens, a comparison that is apt. Taylor is a skilled writer, deft with dialogue and description. His plot device here, that of an unknown reader perusing the victim's diary, sustains the mystery and increases apprehension to the very last page. Don't miss it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2013

    Yesterday I finished BLEEDING HEART SQUARE by Andrew Taylor. Who

    Yesterday I finished BLEEDING HEART SQUARE by Andrew Taylor. Whoo boy, I didn’t see it coming—rather, I did see something coming—and it made me complaisant. Engaging sensitivity and bullies, side by side. Twists upon twists.

    BLEEDING HEART SQUARE is timed in the early 1930s in England, so the atmosphere is charged with the reader's foreknowledge of war.

    An outstanding read.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Starts slow, ends slow.

    I read through this book in just a few days. I enjoyed the detail of London, post WWI. It was very descriptive. It started out a little slow, and it did pick up, but I felt there were too many characters that weren't important to the story, and that made it a bit confusing. It ended poorly. I wont ruin it by saying why.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Atmospheric British mystery--will read more by this author

    Guess I should start off with the fact I'm not someone who normally reads mystery novels (though I do enjoy them; I just don't read tons of them) but I was intrigued by this particular book because it was set in the tumultuous period between WW1 and WW2 in Britain; a time period and locale I'm especially fond of. So, I had no real expectations, I just hoped the story wouldn't turn out to be too simplistic or the characters too broad, flat, etc.

    I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The story is set in both London and the British countryside and centers initially on one Lydia Langstone, a young, privileged society wife who is strong enough to leave her handsome home when her young, spoiled husband abuses her; thus setting into motion the mystery at the heart of the story (please forgive the blatant pun; once you read the book you'll understand why I couldn't resist). Luckily she's got a deadbeat, slightly alcoholic but kindly Dad she can move in with while she sorts out her troubles; his home base being the Bleeding Heart Square of the title. Once there, Lydia and readers quickly encounter all sorts of well-thought out and believable characters from all walks of life and the book's underlying mystery really begins to take off. The author definitely takes his time unraveling both the plot and the back stories of the numerous characters and their many facets; and all the better for us as this is a book full of rich, evocative detail as well as a smattering of British history which makes for a very satisfying, convincing and atmospheric tale. While reading this, I couldn't help thinking that this book could easily be adapted and serialized as part of PBS "Mystery" series-- what could be better than that?

    Having read this mystery, I'm going to check out other works by this Andrew Taylor; perhaps mysteries will be on my reading list more often having discovered this new author whose intelligent and well-researched style kept me guessing and absorbed for nearly 500 pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    Slow start but good read

    I almost put this book down after 100 pages plus because it was so slow. Once it finally got going it was a very good read.

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  • Posted March 14, 2010

    Full of surprises

    Also full of twists and turns that make you stick with reading the book long after you should have turned off the light and gone to sleep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    Family secrets, interconnections and deceptions.

    Very nice twists and turns, kept me glued from beginning to end. Suspenseful, yet very human--very nice balance. Everyone has their good and bad sides. I look forward to more by Andrew Taylor.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A surprise ending.

    I had a bit of a difficult time keeping track of the characters in this book at first. It was a bit of a slow start. However, once I got into the book I enjoyed it. It had a shocking ending! I would never have guessed "who done it".

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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    Posted November 24, 2010

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    Posted November 26, 2009

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    Posted September 28, 2011

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