Bleeding Heart Square

Bleeding Heart Square

by Andrew Taylor

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Overview

If Philippa Penhow hadn't gone to Bleeding Heart Square on that January day, you and perhaps everyone else might have lived happily ever after . . .

It's 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage, there is only one person she can turn to--the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at Number 7.

However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts the decrepit building. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square? What is making struggling journalist Rory Wentwood so desperate to contact Miss Penhow?

And why are parcels of rotting hearts being sent to Joseph Serridge, the last person to see Miss Penhow alive?

Legend has it the devil once danced in Bleeding Heart Square--but is there now a new and sinister presence lurking in its shadows? Bleeding Heart Square is Andrew Taylor's most compelling mystery yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401396459
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 650,141
File size: 908 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Andrew Taylor is the award winning author of a number of novels. He and his wife live with their children in the Forest of Dean, England. He has been awarded the John Creasey Award from Crime Writers of America, the Scroll from Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Golden Dagger, and the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, as well.

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Bleeding Heart Square 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
sharno22 More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I've read by this author. Mr. Taylor really knows how to tell a story. The characters are very well developed and the plot never lags. I found myself standing at the counter, wolfing down my meals while reading because I didn't want to waste time setting the table. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. Highly recommended.
katknit More than 1 year ago
London socialite Lydia Langstone takes refuge from her abusive husband with her estranged father, who resides at number 7, Bleeding Heart Square. Her new surroundings are daunting to one accustomed to a life of privilege. The landlord, Joseph Serridge, takes quite an interest in Lydia, even setting her up in her first ever job. Among the tenants is Rory Wentworth, an unemployed journalist engaged to the niece of the building's now missing previous owner. Rory has been poking his nose into Serridge's past, at the behest of a local bobby who has a grudge against Serridge and is trying to pin a murder on him. The atmosphere of this multi-layered novel is instantly set by the delivery to number 7 of a decaying animal heart wrapped in brown paper. The year is 1935, in the midst of the depression, and England is struggling to recover from the aftereffects of WWI. Local Fascists are trying to gain control of England's government, and they are not averse to using violence. The seedy neighborhood and a myriad of slightly creepy characters contribute to the sense of menace, and chapter by chapter, the suspense ratchets up a notch. Lydia is slowly drawn into the action, only gradually realizing how much of her life till now has been heavily wrapped in secrets. Author Taylor has been compared to Dickens, a comparison that is apt. Taylor is a skilled writer, deft with dialogue and description. His plot device here, that of an unknown reader perusing the victim's diary, sustains the mystery and increases apprehension to the very last page. Don't miss it.
Tangle99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unlike the previous reviewer, I loved this book. I finished it in a few days, and I have to say it kept me totally gripped. I thought the period details were spot-on, the plotting complex and deftly done, the characterization excellent. The books builds a real sense of menace, expressed throughout by the heroines personal story, the mystery which she is drawn to solve and the wider political landscape of the 1930's. There are some shocking moments, which are revealed with real skill. This included the abuse scene early on, which I do feel is relevant to the story and the relationship between Marcus and Lydia. A wonderful book from an author who I am looking forward to explore more.
mrtall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square is a mostly-captivating dive into the foggy, damp, uncomfortable depths of life in low-rent London circa 1934. Andrew Taylor displays Barbara-Vinish skills in painting dirty but compelling pictures that ring unpleasantly true. He¿s perfect for telling the tale of Lydia Langstone, a young society matron who¿s left her brutal wife-beating husband to slum it with her ne¿er-do-well biological father in a nasty old block of flats at the eponymous address.Along the way she meets a sociologist¿s dream slate of inner-city types, including a penniless but hunky young journalist and his Bolshie-symp girlfriend, a shell-shocked veteran of the Great War who¿s sweet on her, a beaten-down policeman on a vendetta, an eagle-eyed old bird who takes in sewing, and many more.But at the heart of the square ¿ in more ways than one ¿ is Mr Joseph Serridge, an enigmatic but deeply compelling blackguard who runs the boarding house in which Lydia lodges. Serridge has inherited this property from his former common-law wife who¿s, ummm, gone conspicuously missing, and whose diary provides ongoing background to each of the book¿s chapters. The book starts slowly but builds nicely, and ends exceptionally well. It's also well-written with strong description and dialogue.My one dissatisfaction with Taylor¿s work here has to do with politics. He weaves in excellent historical detail, and since the period in question was a political hothouse, socialists and fascists and other extremists are rampant. Taylor decides to make Lydia¿s upper-class husband a budding fascist, which is fine, but he overdoes it. Marcus Langstone is an over-the-top caricature who sticks out like a Warhol in a gallery of Rembrandts. Perhaps Taylor felt it impossible to ascribe even a measure of humanity to someone with such unsavory and incorrect political leanings, but he ends up creating a cartoonish grotesque that mars the otherwise excellent quality of his characterization.Still, this is a very good read, and is recommended.
ATechwreck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 a new 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 what has happened to this missing woman, but in the process they realize that they may be putting themselves in danger too.Melodrama and clichés abound in this piece of "historical" fiction, which I struggle to call historical at all, considering the unbelievable behavior of nearly every character in the book. The dialogue was particularly painful, with sentences like the following that seemed to be ripped from a current-day soap opera: ¿Now you¿re just in love with a sort of idea of me, something you dreamed up while we were apart. As far as you¿re concerned I¿m like a bad habit. You need to give me up and then you¿ll be fine¿ (page 190).
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Part psychological suspense and part Gothic novel, Bleeding Heart Square focuses on the residents of Number 7 and their mysterious landlord, Joseph Serridge. When Lydia Langstone decides to leave her abusive husband, she turns to the only person in her life with no connection to her husband -- her estranged father, who lives in rooms at Number 7, Bleeding Heart Square. Journalist Rory Wentwood has recently returned from several years in India to find his fiancee, Fenella Kensley, harboring reservations about their engagement. While Rory was away, both of Fenella's parents died, and her only remaining relation, her aunt Philippa Penhow, has disappeared. Miss Penhow formerly owned the house at Bleeding Heart Square that is now owned by Joseph Serridge. Rory hasn't been able to find work since his return from India, so he fills his time by investigating Miss Penhow's disappearance in hope of winning back Fenella's favor. Suspense develops as Rory uncovers details about Miss Penhow's life and Lydia learns more than she wants to know about her family's dark secrets.The author weaves into the plot social commentary on topics ranging from feminism/women's rights (Lydia frequently sits down to read Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own ), abuse, social class and poverty, and the fascist movement in 1930s Britain. Lydia's family is about as dysfunctional as they come. I found it easy to root for both Lydia and Rory as they each found strength of character to face unwelcome truths and endure life's disappointments. Although I guessed some of the secrets before they were disclosed, I was surprised by the revelations at the end of the book. I felt the sinister atmosphere of Bleeding Heart Square and of the house at Number 7. My only complaint is the occasional repetitiveness, such as one of the characters getting into multiple fights and finding a chipped tooth after each one. In spite of a few minor shortcomings, this is a very solid suspense novel that I would recommend to readers who like historical mysteries set in the era between the World Wars.This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher through the Early Reviewers program.
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a very mixed reaction to this book. It is fairly well-written with more depth than many mysteries, but the only character I really truly liked was Lydia. I did not dislike the journalist Rory, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked him. I really disliked every other character in the book. I was not a fan of the communist/fascist theme in the book. Although the plotting for the mystery was done well, I just didn't really like it. I think the main reason for this is the dislike of the characters around whom the plot centered. I also felt that the writing could have been a bit tighter, shortening the length of the book. The book takes place in the 1930s. I really don't know a great deal about the expected behavior of persons in England during that time period, but I found myself questioning whether some of the characters, particularly women characters would have done some of the things they did. I am willing to try future novels by Taylor as long as these characters are not in the book and the communist/fascist theme isn't revisited because I think he is capable of producing a novel that I might enjoy. This one just didn't quite measure up.
pkc181 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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. The story is set in both London and the British countryside and centers initially on one Lydia Langstone, a young, privileged society wife who is strong enough to leave her handsome home when her young, spoiled husband abuses her; thus setting into motion the mystery at the heart of the story (please forgive the blatant pun; once you read the book you¿ll understand why I couldn¿t resist). Luckily she¿s got a deadbeat, slightly alcoholic but kindly Dad she can move in with while she sorts out her troubles; his home base being the Bleeding Heart Square of the title. Once there, Lydia and readers quickly encounter all sorts of well-thought out and believable characters from all walks of life and the book¿s underlying mystery really begins to take off. The author definitely takes his time unraveling both the plot and the back stories of the numerous characters and their many facets; and all the better for us as this is a book full of rich, evocative detail as well as a smattering of British history which makes for a very satisfying, convincing and atmospheric tale. While reading this, I couldn¿t help thinking that this book could easily be adapted and serialized as part of PBS ¿Mystery¿ series-- what could be better than that? Having read this mystery, I¿m going to check out other works by this Andrew Taylor; perhaps mysteries will be on my reading list more often having discovered this new author whose intelligent and well-researched style kept me guessing and absorbed for nearly 500 pages.
verbafacio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square is a unique period piece told from alternating perspectives. While the mystery at hand concerns the disappearance of an old woman, much of the story involves a younger woman who has left her upper-class lifestyle behind to escape an abusive husband. She seeks refuge with her long-lost father in the decidedly downmarket rooming house in Bleeding Heart Square. Taylor does an excellent job at vividly painting both privileged and more seedy life in early 1900s London. For the most part, the characters are believable and easy to relate to. However, there are far to many characters to get to know, and many have little to do with moving the plot forward. Indeed there are so many unnecessary subplots that by the time the mystery is finally revealed (a tremendous surprise -- even a touch ludicrous), I was hardly interested. If you come to this book as historical fiction, you may well enjoy the incidental mystery, but mystery genre fans may be disappointed.
tara35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square is just the sort of book I like. Set in London in the 30s, it is packed with eccentric characters that are difficult to read. No one is exactly what they seem. Lydia Langstone has left her abusive well-to-do husband to live with her down-and-out father in Bleeding Heart Square. It is definitely a step down for a lady such as herself. We also hear from another gentlewoman, Miss Philippa May Penhow, though it seems she is no longer among the living. How she and Lydia and the various characters living at Bleeding Heart Square all tie together is the heart of this tale. It's a mystery but not of the usual sort. It's much more about the characters, the setting, the relationships and how everything is connected than it is about who-done-it, though we think we know, but are we correct?? It's the sort of mystery which mystery lovers probably get annoyed with, the sort of mystery that might actually be better placed in the Literature section of the store, the sort of mystery that I actually like quite a lot.
ashleyk44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In general, mysteries aren't my thing. The historical aspect of this one appealed to me, so on a whim I entered to win in on LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. Much to my surprise, I won it, and I was a little apprehensive about reading a mystery. Again, much to my surprise, I enjoyed it.The setting, historical details, and atmosphere are what really drove this one home for me. Although the mystery of what happened to Miss Philippa Penhow is the focus of the novel, there is so much more to it than that. There is the wealthy Lydia, who runs away from her brute of a husband after he attacks her, and is brave enough to decide on a divorce in a time when divorce was hardly accepted. There is Rory, a journalist who finds himself unemployed upon his return from India, delving into the mystery for the sake of Miss Penhow's niece, and his (maybe) fiance, Fenella. There is the legend of the devil who danced away with a lady in Bleeding Heart Square, the fascist meeting that reveals so much of the political situation that England was in, and the constant, menacing presence of Joseph Serridge.One of the blurbs on the back of the book call it "intricately plotted and beautifully crafted," and it most definitely is.
jmaloney17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square is a decent mystery. However, it is not the strongest part of the book. The strength is in the historical writing. It was easy to imagine the strained politics, the friction between old and new generations and men and women, and the changing role of women in society. I quite enjoyed those bits. I came to really dislike fascists. Their big meeting at the church was my highlight of the book for me. The mystery ended up kind of boring and not really important to the plot or the characters. So, if you just want a good mystery you can skip this one. But, if you are looking for a good historical between the two world wars, I think Bleeding Heart Square is worth the time.
ForeignCircus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This a hard one for me because although I agree the prose is dense and the descrptions intricate, I just couldn't sink into the story itself. The plot moved so slowly that reading the book became a chore rather than a pleasure. By the time things really started moving, I no longer cared about the solution of the mystery or the motivations of the characters. All in all, a frustrating read.
indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though this started out a bit slow, it hooked me somewhere near the middle & then I picked up the reading pace quite a bit so that I could finish & find out "whodunnit". I do enjoy mysteries, although I don't necessarily read a lot of them. Not only was this a good story, but it was well-written also. The format was somewhat original, with each chapter beginning with a portion of a diary written by Philippa Penhow, who mysteriously disappeared several years previous. Each entry is preceded &/or followed by a comment from a mysterious narrator. Who is this mysterious narrator? And what happened to Ms. Penhow? Did she leave the country, was she murdered, or is there another explanation? The reader is introduced to several characters who may or may not be involved or have knowledge of this disappearance. It's really a well-crafted mystery with several different themes going on at the same time. The reader may or may not be satisfied with the ending, but it did come as a surprise to me. My only complaint, as I alluded to above, was that the first portion of the book moved more slowly than the second. If you can get through that, you're in for a fulfilling read.
jonesli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lydia Langstone flees her abusive husband, and winds up at Bleeding Heart Square, a cul-de-sac where her father, who she hasn¿t seen for years, is currently residing. The book starts very, very slowly, many characters are introduced who seemingly do not have a relationship with each other. The book then gains momentum in the middle and the end, where the various characters¿ relationships are explained. When it picked up the pace, I literally couldn¿t put it down. At the heart of the story is the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Penhow, a middle aged spinster who has seemingly vanished into thin air. This was a great book!
Shuffy2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book opens with a mysterious diary entry that is written three years before and sets the tone for the book. Who is Miss Phillipa May Penhow? Is she dead or only sleeping? It is 1934 and Lydia Langston, the heroine of the book, leaves her abusive husband and moves from an affleunt home to Bleeding Heart Square where her 'real' father, a Captain Ingelby-Lewis lives. The book follows Lydia and her struggles to make a new life for herself, the story is intertwined with the mysterious diary and the search for what happened to Miss Penhow. Did Mis Penhow run away to America? Why is Mr Serridge getting mysterious packages at Bleeding Heart Square? Should she go back to her husband? Will her life ever be the same?As a fan of mysteries and historical fiction, I enjoyed the book. It did take some time for me to get into the story but once I did I was hooked until the end which I did not see coming at all (not completely happy with it but still enjyed the book). I don't want to spoil it because it is worth the read so I'll let you decide.... Received this book as part of the February 2009 Ealry Reviewer batch in January of 2010. A long wait but glad it came nonetheless...
joeltallman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The 1930's details are pitch-perfect, and the characters are three-dimensional enough to been seen convincingly in new lights as the novel gradually reveals its intricately constructed plot. Andrew Taylor's novels are similar to those written by Ruth Rendell under the name Barbara Vine--what one reviewer has called "slow moving thrillers"--with the mystery hinging upon the way events in the past (in this case, 1930, the year Miss Philippa May Penhow disappeared, and was possibly murdered) are revealed and concealed by characters living through their later consequences (four years later, when Lydia Langstone, fleeing an abusive marriage, comes to live in the boarding house formerly owned by Penhow, in the London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square). Momentum is gained through the accretion of detail; characters' destinies begin to twine; lives are in peril; before you know it, the last 100 pages speed along by turning themselves. With a satisfying twist at the very end, which will surprise even those who think they've figured out the many ways Taylor has engineered and oiled his clockwork of events and characters, past and present. Readers who enjoy this novel should seek out Taylor's unjustly neglected Roth trilogy.
echaika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't like mysteries. I really don't like British mysteries. This book is a mystery. It is a British mystery. I loved it. Why? Certainly, it is so well written, but, more than that,like any good novel, it evokes its period and place, 1934 London, vividly and believably. The characters are well-rounded, real people. Taylor even recreates the political scene between the devastations of World Wars I and II, the agitations of both the Socialists and the Fascists, led by Sir Oswald Mosley and his blackshirts. All around, this is a really good read.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1930, Phillipa Penhow disappears after marrying late in life, and eventually a letter arrives to explain she ran off with an old flame. In 1934, Lydia Langstone leaves her abusive husband and moves into her father's apartment in a building once owned by Miss Penhow, now owned by Penhow's former husband. And among other mysteries, someone's leaving dead, rotting hearts for the landlord at 7 Bleeding Heart Square. Taylor's Bleeding Heart Square is a very good mystery, with interesting twists and turns along the way to a captivating conclusion - one of the few books I've read recently that I actually couldn't put down until I finished the last third or so. The characters are complicated and real, while the period is very well represented. The only down-side to the book is a somewhat slow pace to the first few chapters - stick with it and you'll be glad you did.
ashmolean1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Andrew Taylor's writings and this one didn't disappoint. Set in the 1930's, Lydia Langstone tries to trace the mystery of the disappearance of the previous owner of the house where she is staying in Bleeding House Square. Taylor captures the atmosphere of 1930's London and keeps us reading right up until the end when the mystery is solved.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square is not your typical British murder mystery at all. I've seen it labeled in some reviews as "Dickensian" which might actually be an appropriate description on several levels. As a matter of fact, at times I was a bit taken aback when the author brought up things like automobiles and typewriters, because the tone of this book often made me feel like I was reading a story set in the Victorian period. But it's definitely set squarely in 1930s England, between the wars. Bleeding Heart Square follows Lydia Langstone, who has left her husband Marcus and has moved into the only place she can go -- to her father's flat in Bleeding Heart Square. There she meets the other tenants and becomes involved in the mystery of whatever happened to Phillipa Penhow, the former owner of the house at Bleeding Heart Square, while trying to sort out her own life. Along the way, the reader is given little hints about the mystery of Phillipa Penhow through snippets of her diary and other events taking place all around Lydia. The book is more than a mystery -- it's a look at interwar Britain in terms of class, economics, society and politics, as well as what's changing and what's staying the same. This is a book that you will want to think about some more after having read it -- not just a piece of historical fiction or an historical mystery. So while I would definitely recommend it to British mystery fans, I'd also suggest it for people interested in interwar Britain in an historical context. The book often is slow and sloggy while the author is laying the groundwork, but it picks up a lot of speed and you'll find yourself turning page after page in order to try to make sense of the clues you're given by the author. You might be tempted to turn to the end (I was and slapped my own hand), but don't. Overall this was a good read.
martitia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bleeding Heart Square takes place in the 1930s, but has the gothic flavor found in many historical novels written today. Andrew Taylor even has the "dear reader" omniscient narrator in parts of the novel. In fact, if there's any problem with the novel, it's the fact that I kept seeing Victorian characters. I really enjoyed his earlier novel An Unpardonable Crime with the young Poe as a character and will continue to read him.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrew Taylor¿s latest crime mystery is a literary whodunnit set in London in the early 1930¿s. Lydia Langstone, leaves her abusive marriage and arrives to live with her father, Captain Ingleby-Lewis, at Number 7 Bleeding Heart Square. Also residing in the building is Joseph Serrige who is a rather mysterious character with a dark past; and Rory Wentwood who has recently parted ways with his girlfriend Fennela Kensley. What binds all these characters together is the disappearance of an older woman named Miss Penhow who has not been seen for four years.Taylor has crafted a novel with twists and turns and a few gory details - such as the rotting hearts which keep arriving at Bleeding Heart Square addressed to Serrige.Narrated from multiple viewpoints and including snippets of the missing woman¿s diary with commentary from an unidentified character, Taylor¿s story builds slowly and steadily to its surprising conclusion.Bleeding Heart Square is a mystery novel entrenched in the history of the time period between the Great Wars including the British Union of Fascists introduction into English society. It also covers such social issues as abusive marriages, adultery, divorce and the role of women during that time. These larger themes, as well as Taylor¿s adept use of language, set this novel apart from other mysteries.The first half of the book is a bit slow and there are many characters who weave in and out of the narrative which requires attention from the reader to keep them all straight. But despite the leisurely start, Bleeding Heart Square picks up its pace mid-way and becomes hard to put down. Atmospheric, rich in historical detail, and written with a literary flair, this novel is recommended to readers who enjoy historical fiction, whodunnit mysteries and British literature.
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrew Taylor's `Bleeding Heart Square' is a well-wrought English mystery in the tradition of P.D. James and Marjorie Allingham. It is 1934 London, and aristocrat Lydia Langstone flees her abusive husband and moves in with her estranged father in his unprepossessing rooms at #7, Bleeding Heart Square. The shabby lodging house is currently owned by Joseph Serridge, who for reasons unknown to the reader, is receiving gruesome parcels containing rotting hearts. Add to this mix Philippa Penlow, Serridge's mysteriously missing wife, and an unemployed journalist recently returned from India who is trying to solve her disappearance. And then there are the excerpts from Penlow's diary which preface each chapter and describe her destructive relationship with Serridge and her eventual breakdown. A dark and threatening atmosphere is thus created, and the reader knows that the surprises ahead may not be pleasant ones. `Bleeding Heart Square' is rich in period detail; Taylor does an effective job of recreating the square and its inhabitants. But it is a grim, dark world - a world of domestic abuse, fascism, grinding poverty, sexism, class divisions, and the scars of The War to End All Wars. This is not a novel that will appeal to all readers. But those who enjoy this sub-genre, will sing its praises. Others may want to look for something a bit lighter elsewhere.
sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In November 1934, Lydia Langstone left her husband after he hit her - vowing never to return. She packs a few things, takes some of her jewelry and the money she keeps in the house, and goes to stay with her father in his "modest" flat in Bleeding Heart Square in a older neighborhood of London. Rory Wentwood, recently returned from India, is having trouble with his fiance, Fenella Kensley - she seems to have cooled on the idea of marriage. But he must find a job and a place to stay before he can worry about Fenella, so he also takes a flat in Bleeding Heart Square while he looks for a job. Herbert Narton is watching Bleeding Heart Square, trying to get a glimpse of Joseph Serridge, so he sees both these new residents moving in. He enlists Rory to assist in the old police investigation into the disappearance of Philippa Penhow, Fenella's aunt, 4 years earlier. Serrridge is suspected of killing Miss Penhow and hiding her body, but nothing has ever been proven. Serridge is also the owner of the building at Bleeding Heart Square - a building previously owned by Miss Penhow. Serridge also owns a farm house that was purchased by Miss Penhow from Lydia's father, Captain Ingeby-Lewis.Each chapter begins with an excerpt from Miss Penhow's diary written in 1930 - shortly before her disappearance. Each diary entry is introduced by an unknown narrator who is familiar with the situation and, presumably, knows what really happened to the woman. The story proceeds at a deliberate pace, with characters being introduced, and clues being uncovered. The relationships between the different characters are so interconnected that they threaten to become unmanagable but never does. No one person knows everything, except the unknown reader of the diary, and the reader is the first to learn the entire truth from them. I thought the book started slowly - it took me several chapters to feel comfortable in the setting and with these characters. There are quite a few small intrigues, and by the middle of the book, I was hooked. The political environment in London before WWII was tense - as people experimented with socialism and fascism in an effort to avoid another war. The changing social conventions was also an issue - as shown in Lydia's determination to make her separation from her husband permanent, despite advice from her mother and other older ladies that "these things happen, dear." Overall, an impressive book. Skillfully written.