Was There a Murder? Self-Awareness and Obsession in 1930's London
A society wife leaves her husband and moves to seedy lodgings where coincidences draw her into the mystery of a middle-aged spinster's disappearance four years earlier.
Andrew Taylor is a prolific writer with more than two dozen books to his credit. He is the best-selling author of The American Boy and the Roth Trilogy which was made into the television series Fallen Angel (on ITV in the UK).
Changing Times in 1930’s London
Society is changing as war looms with the old certainties disappearing, especially for aristocratic families. It is in this context that Lydia Langstone leaves her abusive marriage and high society to move in with her father who she has not seen for thirty years. They share seedy lodgings in a decaying house in Bleeding Heart Square where she learns independence and how to live without servants.
Coincidences come thick and fast as she learns of the house and square’s history. Lydia meets job-hunting journalist, Rory Wentwood, recently returned from India, when he moves into rooms in the house. The house was once owned by the aunt of Wentwood’s fiancée until the middle-aged spinster disappeared after moving to the country.
Dark, Sinister and Complex
The story gets darker and more complex as Wentwood is recruited by a plain-clothes policeman who is watching the house and the mysterious Serridge, the house’s owner. Serridge is being sent raw, rotting hearts by post but no one knows who is sending them, or why.
Add in the rise of fascism, rural insularity with aristocratic, marital intrigues and the story twists and turns as the intrigue develops and the story becomes more sinister. This richly described story draws in the reader and leads her on an increasingly complex tale in which the suspense is only resolved in the last few pages.
Each chapter starts with a page from the missing spinster’s diary from four years before the story’s setting. It is not clear who is narrating the comments around the diary until the very end of the book. It is a useful device for keeping the mystery of her disappearance going and avoids the need for flashbacks to explain the recent past. The diary and narration sets the scene as the story moves back and forth between London and rural Kent without interrupting the main story.
The author creates believable characters which the reader will love, pity, mistrust as appropriate and the reader's relationship with many of the individuals will change as the story unfolds, Indeed Bleeding Heart Square’s characterisation and setting are comprehensive and well rounded but the detail is an intrinsic part of the story and is never forced. The main characters, especially, develop throughout the book as they appreciate that their world, and their understanding of it, is changing.
An Engrossing Tale That Keeps the Reader Engaged
As a result this is a dramatic book that may well lead the reader to finish it at a single sitting. This makes it a good holiday read or is ideal for a long flight; but perhaps not so good for reading in bed – the reader may well lose sleep if they are not able to put Bleeding Heart Square down.
First shown on Suite101