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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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.