2008 2009 Mystery Thriller

Bleeding Heart Square – Andrew Taylor

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?


The Room of Lost Things – Stella Duffy

The Room of Lost Things is set in London, and shows a side to the city which isn’t often seen. The book is set in a dry-cleaning shop and follows its owner, Robert, as he decides to retire and pass his business on to the young, east Londoner, Akeel. The book gives brief glimpses into the lives of those who enter the dry-cleaning shop, or some who are simply are passing by. In doing so it paints a picture of the people who live near the railway arch of Loughborough Junction, south London.

Unfortunately I didn’t fall in love with this book. There were too many characters introduced too quickly. I didn’t count them, but I saw one review on Amazon which stated that 26 were introduced by the half way point. I know that this was to demonstrate the diversity of the local population, and that we are only supposed to capture glimpses of their lives as you would in a dry-cleaning shop, but my poor little brain can’t cope with this sort of thing, and I had nothing to pull me in to the book.

The book improved in the second half as we learned more about Robert, and I got a bit more used to the writing style. I found the ending quite poignant, but I’m afraid that a great last paragraph couldn’t compensate for the lack of real plot during the rest of the book.

The Room of Lost Things was recommended to me by Simon, and I have seen a few other good reviews around. So, please do not dismiss this book on my account. I am well known for having a poor capacity for coping with lots of different characters, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book much more than me.