Bleeding Heart Square – Andrew Taylor

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Winner of the Cartier Diamond Dagger 2009

I really enjoyed The American Boy, which was a Richard and Judy choice a few years ago, so was interested to see what Andrew Taylor’s latest book would be like. I don’t think Bleeding Heart Square is quite as good as The American Boy, but it gets quite close.

Bleeding Heart Square
is set in London, just before the WWII. The central character is Lydia Langstone – she flees her abusive husband to live with her elderly father in Bleeding Heart Square. Soon the landlord starts to receive foul smelling hearts in the post, and Lydia sets out to investigate whether there is a link between the horrible parcels and the landlord’s missing lover, Miss Penhow.

Period atmosphere is present throughout, and the book is very well researched, but I found it slow in several sections. The begining and end were perfectly written, but there were many points in the middle sections where my mind started wondering. I loved Lydia, but found many of the side characters blended in to one another, as they weren’t vivid enough to picture as individuals.

The mystery was cleverly written, but I did guess the twist in the end, which is perhaps why I am scoring this book a bit lower than I otherwise would.

It is a nice, light thriller though, so may be worth picking up if you’re looking for something with a bit of Gothic atmosphere.



Andrew Taylor is highly thought of in the crime writing world, and has won the CWA John Creasey Award, an Edgar Scroll and two CWA Ellis Peters Historical Daggers. I was surprised to learn that he has written more than 25 books.

Have you read any of his books? Which one is your favourite?

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  1. FleurFisher says:

    I did like Bleeding Heart Square, though like you I guessed the mystery. For me it was the recreation of the period that carried the day. I haven’t warmed to Andrew Taylor’s Lydmouth books, but I do generally like his stand-alone books.

  2. iliana says:

    I’ve heard so many good things about the Andrew Taylor books. I have An Unpardonable Crime just waiting for me… Although now that I think about it, is this a series? I’ll have to double check to make sure I start with the first one.

  3. FleurFisher/Jane – I haven’t read any of his Lydmouth books, but I would be tempted to read more of his books in the future. It is a shame we worked it out before the end!

  4. Jackie says:

    Iliana – Sorry, I don’t know if Unpardonable Crime is part of a series. I hope you find out and enjoy reading it.

  5. Violet says:

    Nope, haven’t read any. But Bleeding Heart Square has such a nice thrilling name to it. I love the premise and I won’t be averse to reading it. Feels like I haven’t read a mystery in a long time.

  6. Jackie says:

    Violet – I do love a good mystery, but the thing I like most is being shocked at the end. I have heard that several people guessed the ending, so I think this one is a bit simple for me. The American Boy was much better.

  7. Jenny says:

    You know, I’m not trying to preach the One True Way here or anything, but if you always read the end before you read the middle, you never have it spoiled. You have the whole rest of the book enriched! All the lovely clues, you spot them all and appreciate the clever things the author’s doing.

  8. Jackie says:

    Jenny – I can see where you’re coming from but I really enjoy spotting the clues and trying to work things out for myself. How do you know where the ending starts from? With really good books things are revealed slowly, all the way through.

  9. Jenny says:

    You’re totally right about things being revealed slowly in really good books, but I like seeing how things are going to be wrapped up finally. I don’t like that jolty feeling when something happens that I never saw coming – for me it’s more fun to know all along. It’s delicious to watch things unfolding when you know what’s coming and the characters don’t.

    Actually, I think this is why I desperately love things like Macbeth or The Secret History. Nothing more suspenseful and thrilling (for me) than a story where someone has done something wicked and you’re waiting for it to catch up with them.

  10. Jenny says:

    Hm, and about where the ending starts – I generally glance at the very end, and if I don’t understand it, I back up a few pages, and repeat as needed.

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m not sure your tactic is for me! I’m glad it works for you though!

  11. Samantha says:

    I also read and liked An American Boy and recently foun a hardback version of Bleeding Heart Square for $7 so I had to snap it up. My score may be higher than yours (once I have read it) as I rarely see the plot twists and endings coming ;-)

    1. Jackie says:

      Bargain! I would have scored it 4/5 if the ending hadn’t been so predictable. So you may well enjoy it more than I did. I’ll keep an eye out for your review!


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