The main attraction of Andrew Taylor’s “Bleeding Heart Square” is the convincing period atmosphere of London in the ‘thirties, encompassing the rise of Oswald Mosley’s fascist party and the class distinctions and position of women that were just beginning to become less rigid.
It’s a murder mystery in a way, and although no body ever appears, there’s not much doubt that the gullible woman who has disappeared, leaving all her property behind, was murdered. The identity of the murderer also seems to be obvious. I don’t want to spoil the story for possible readers, but I will say that Taylor inserts some confusion about the guilty party at the very end. In my opinion, this wasn’t entirely successful and didn’t improve the book.
As an American, I don’t know a lot about the current state of class distinctions in England, but I remember meeting a young woman who was apparently a member of the English upper class on a camping trip in Alaska. This was admittedly years ago, although long after the period covered in Taylor’s book. In our only short conversation I asked her what she did. In my experience, this question led to learning about someone’s interests, talents, and accomplishments, but this young woman thought I was insulting her by implying that she had to earn a living.
“I don’t do anything,” she said. “Sometimes I volunteer.”