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Bleeding Heart Square

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,292 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Legend states the Devil once danced in Bleeding Heart Square and left a murdered woman behind him. Formerly the site of a medieval palace, it is now, in 1934, a decaying north London cul-de-sac. In a lodging house resides a collection of tenants with equally colourful histories, including the sinister Samuel Serridge.
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published May 29th 2008 by Michael Joseph (first published May 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,292 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It wasn't what I hoped for. Not bad, but not very good either. Rather slow too.
Thomas Strömquist
A long, low-key and quite slow moving, but ultimately very rewarding read. Taylor writes so well that he manages to convey surroundings, characters and atmosphere of 1930s Britain that will almost have you transported there.

Lydia Langstone walks out on her abusive husband and moves in with her estranged father in his apartment in Bleeding Heart Square. In doing so, she unknowingly stumbles onto and into dark secrets, both old and current. Despite the low pace, my interest was kept up
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I adore Andrew Taylor books. I needed something intelligent to devour after a string of disappointing reads, so I reverted to one of my favourite authors.

This is not his best work, in comparison to everything I had read by him. It is, however, atmospheric and is set in the 1930s which was a troubled time, of course.

Lydia is married to the horrendous Marcus and after an altercation goes to live with her estranged father in Bleeding Heart Square, which is a shared house of apartments with some v
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-challenge
Possibly even 4.5 stars. A very well plotted mystery set in London between 1930 and 1934. Philippa Penhow, an elderly spinster, meets a younger man (a womaniser and a schemer) falls head over heels and moves to the country where she promptly disappears. Did she wise up and leave or was she murdered? Four years after her disappearance a number of people begin asking questions for a variety of reasons. This is a slow burning mystery that unravels over almost five hundred pages revealing madness, j ...more
I've just finished this book and I'm not sure what to put. It is by my favourite author and reading one of his books makes me feel instantly happy and at home as this one did. I really did enjoy this book and as usual it was very well written.

However the ending didn't really have me racing to finish it and I thought the actual mystery element of the story was fairly weak and slow. However, this does not detract from what makes this a good book.

It is set on a back drop of
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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. T
Sheila Beaumont
Andrew Taylor is a British mystery author who should be better known in the United States. This complex story is set mostly in 1934 London, with flashbacks to 1930 via a diary kept by Philippa Penhow, a pathetically gullible, financially well-off older woman who is courted by Joseph Serridge, a middle-aged scoundrel known to some as "the devil" who convinces her that he is truly in love with her.

The cast of characters is colorful and Dickensian. It includes Lydia Langstone, a young w
Ant Koplowitz
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, favourites
One of the best books I've ever read. I can't even recognise the critique offered by a number of other reviewers, let alone agree with them. The setting, place, time and characterisation were all spot-on, and I couldn't stop reading. Typical of Taylor's style, he writes with an almost detached air, slightly disconnected which seems to increase the narrative drive. I really didn't want this book to end. If you haven't done so already, then start reading this today.
© Koplowitz 2010
Feb 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Set in London in the 1930's, "Bleeding Heart Square" tells the story of Lydia Langstone, a wealthy woman who leaves her abusive husband and goes to live with her father in a less-than-ideal part of London. While settling into her new life and trying to establish her identity, Lydia finds herself mixed up in an investigation of a missing woman who has ties to a number of people around her in her new home, Bleeding Heart Square. She and a fellow tenant, Rory Wentworth, work together to determine w ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Slow to get into. Rather liked Lydia and Rory. Ending was very convoluted and somewhat ridiculous. Political passages were unnecessary and mind numbingly boring.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know what to think of this book. It wasn't as interesting as I had hoped it would be, but at times I couldn't put it down. So... ;)
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The time is shortly before WW II and many people of high rank are joining the Fascist party in London. Against this backdrop a young man is trying, on behalf of his fiancée, to find out what happened to her aunt. Gradually he is joined in his quest by a young woman who has left her high ranking Fascist husband and is seeking a divorce. The characters are interesting and the conclusion
completely unexpected.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great read, the first of Andrew Taylor's I've come across. A crime novel of a different kind, set in the 1930s with the rise of Oswald Moseley's fascists as a background.
Jack Heath
Synopsis: legend states the Devil once danced in London's Bleeding Heart Square and left a murdered woman behind him. Is he back?
Nicola Mansfield
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reason for Reading: The book sounded perfect for me: a British historical mystery set in the thirties which the blurbs assured me was "beautifully crafted".

I have found myself a new favourite author! After reading this book, I want to get my hands on anything else by this man. This is a clever book, very intelligently crafted and written with a literary flair. His combination of mystery and history is absolutely superb.

There is so much story here and a mystery that morphs
Lourdes Venard
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Langstone is an upper-class woman used to the finer things. But when her husband strikes her, she leaves her comfortable life to share a gritty apartment with her estranged father in the somewhat seedy Bleeding Heart Square. Rory Wentwood, a journalist who has spent years in India and is now unemployed, also finds himself renting an apartment there. The legend of the square has it that the devil, disguised during a party, danced away with a lady, leaving her body on the square, her bleedin ...more
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a book which is essentially a bit of fluff with a mystery in it, or four, in which every single character seems to be related. From the cover, you will discover that Lydia Langstone has left her husband! And Miss Penhow has disappeared! The former of these is a fait accomplis from about two chapters in, and the latter is sort of background noise to what is basically a dysfunctional 44 Scotland Street full of drunkards and socially inept people, which is to say, exactly the sort of people ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"don't go of a night into Bleeding Heart Square. It's a dark, little, dirty, black, ill-looking yard, With queer people about." and so begins Bleeding Heart Square.
It's about trust and betrayal between mother and daughter, daughter and father and husband and wife. It is also a brilliant extension of the Ingoldsby Legends, taking them from the mid-1800s to the time between the wars in England. If you have not heard of the Ingoldsby Legends, it would be a good thing to learn a little about
Pat Gerber-Relf
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It takes part in Holborn, London, an area which I though I knew perfectly, but there are some things that I did not discover. After finishing the book I checked on Bleeding Heart Square and discovered that it really exists, complete with its secret entrance. The plot in the book was well constructed, the time when the fascists had begun to show their ungly heads, The people living in house No. 7 on the square were a mixed bunch, and most of them had their secrets. The ending o ...more
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: hardback

I've looked back through my notes on every book of Andrew Taylor's that I've read over the last five years and I've pretty much liked them all and really loved several of them. Which makes me feel not too guilty, when you look at the overall picture, about saying that this was a bit of an "eh?" book for me.

There were lots of little things I liked but the overall story didn't especially engage me: I liked the main female character Libby and the insights into 1930s living, divorce and the rise of

I finished this several days ago, and although I quite liked it, I now find myself struggling to think of anything to say about it. The plot was entertaining enough; I found Miss Penhow's diary entries more interesting than the rest of the story, and they kept me reading more than anything. The characters were uniformly likeable but not memorable, which is a description I would also apply to the book.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
One or two of the characters are a little flat and two-dimensional, but Andrew Taylor has a flair for atmosphere and setting a scene. 1930s London could be a grim, cold, frightening place and he evokes that beautifully. He also knows how to create suspense; the interweaving of the present, with the past through the diaries of a love-struck, increasingly terrified woman keeps the reader turning the pages to find out how it all ends.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I like Andrew Taylor's uncluttered prose and the way he subtly builds an underlying sense of menace, which he does so well in this novel. It's a period piece, steeped in vivid detail and a sense of 1930s decay. You can almost smell the damp and imagine the faded wallpaper and dark, draughty hallways. I found the central mystery and the final twist disturbing and compelling.
I loved Andrew Taylor's 'An Unpardonable Crime' (aka 'The American Boy') and I did enjoy his 'The Anatomy of Ghosts'. Unfortunately one hundred pages into this one and I still didn't find a character to care about or a mystery that held my attention. That being said I'm looking forward to reading his most recent novel, 'The Scent of Death'.
Apr 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I enjoyed this mystery so much! I'm not sure where I first saw it, but I found a note to myself about it and gave it a try. What a spooky, atmospheric and compelling read. Fascists, Communists, class conflict, a mysterious disappearance -- and a twisty plot too! I'll be looking for more by this author.
Jane Grandt
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Liked reading about the period--early 20th-century England--and the drama.
Nicely done period piece with an interesting twist at the end.
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great for long, dark, cold rainy winter nights by the fire...
Diane Dickson
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable book. It was intricate, involved and entertaining. The construction was different and worked really well to ratchet up the mystery and there were a couple of really clever little twists which were hinted at just enough so that when they were revealed you kicked yourself for not seeing what was coming.

The scene setting was pretty good, and it makes you realize how lucky many of us are now compared to a great number of people in the UK in the times between the wars.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epub

"A well-crafted mystery, told with style."

--Anne Perry

"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

"Finely drawn period atmosphere, compellingly complex characters, breath-stopping suspen/>



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Andrew Taylor (b. 1951) is a British author of mysteries. Born in East Anglia, he attended university at Cambridge before getting an MA in library sciences from University College London. His first novel, Caroline Miniscule (1982), a modern-day treasure hunt starring history student William Dougal, began an eight-book series and won Taylor wide critical acclaim. He has written several other thrill ...more
“That's what hell means, perhaps, being compelled not just to live but to relive.” 5 likes
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