Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths
Elly Griffiths’ latest suspenseful mystery novel Bleeding Heart Yard (Mariner) might rightfully give pause to those readers who are contemplating attending an upcoming high school reunion. It’s daunting enough to be concerned about your appearance and imagining how you might measure up to long-ago classmates without finding one old friend stone dead in the washroom, as happens here!
This superb storyteller has, once again, woven a compelling tale that may keep you up all night as the serpentine plot evolves into a surprising and satisfying conclusion.
CLIQUE CAUGHT UP IN A DARK SECRET
Twenty-one years ago, a clique of seven of the most popular students called “The Group” either witnessed or were directly involved in the murder of a wannabe member. They all kept silent, sticking to the official story of what was ruled an accidental death while attempting to suppress their memories of the truth.
David Moore, an 18-year-old smart university bound senior student was pushed to his death under a late afternoon commuter train rushing under the overpass platform of the closed and abandoned Imperial station.
It was once part of the London Underground subway system and located not far from the Bleeding Heart Yard. One of the two abandoned warehouses that overlooked the tracks and platform at the time of the murder is being repurposed into luxury flats by an upmarket architecture firm.
DANGEROUS GROUP LIVING IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“The Group” went to different universities and parted company, although some still reside in London and occasionally communicate. Two of the boys, Gary Rice and Henry Steep, are Members of Parliament (MP) although polar opposites both politically and personally.
Blond and handsome Chris Foster has become an internationally famous rock star with all the trappings of acclaim and financial success. Isabel “Izzy” Istar skipped university to attend RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and is a BAFTA award winning star of stage, film and television.
Like Gary, Sonoma Davies was a stellar student who also attended Oxford University and is currently the Headmistress of their alma mater Manor Park School. She knows the whereabouts of all the former friends and was responsible for arranging the fatal reunion although unable to be present.
Anna Vance was the poorest and least advantaged of the students. Still harboring ambitions to become a writer, she works as an ESL teacher in Italy. Cassie Fitzherbert, now a Detective Sergeant (DS), reports directly to the new Detective Inspector (DI) Harbinder Kaur who is chief investigator of the case. Cassie’s former rugby playing husband Pete also attended the same school but was two years ahead of them and not part of the clique.
The reunion was a festive occasion with cheerful decorations, good food and plentiful drink; a surprisingly pleasant time for reminiscing and dancing to music of their day, until Gary Rice MP turned up dead in a restroom.
When another member, Henry Steep MP, is found dead in Bleeding Heart Yard, some wonder if the group is being targeted. It’s a high profile case because of the fame of some of the alumni and speculation arises that this murder is somehow linked to the earlier death.
CAPTIVATING LEAD, DI KAUR, RETURNS
Harbinder Kaur describes herself as being “a 38 year old, short, gay, Sikh policewoman.” Until her recent promotion to DI and transfer to the London Police Force, she had worked her way up to DS West Sussex CID in Chichester. It’s only 90 miles from London but a world apart as it is the first time Harbinder has not lived at home with her parents.
This coastal, affluent Cathedral city was an ancient Roman market town with walls and abundant ruins remaining. It has a bustling urban center and a university which Harbinder was permitted to attend as a day student. Her doting parents, Deepak and Bibi, immigrated to England before their children were born, are dog owners to a spoiled rotten German Shepard named Starsky, and proud homeowners.
They own and operate a convenience store with the help of her oldest brother Kush “Khushwant”. Their middle child Abney is an electrician. Her brothers are both over six feet tall and, as observant Punjabi Sikhs, wear turbans, thus towering over their petite 5’3” sister.
The sons are married with five children between them and homes of their own in the same area. They love but don’t quite understand their bright, energetic sister who loves detective work and crime solving.
The parental home is always noisy; full of family and friends who gather for great meals and snacks as well as to gossip and chat in Punjabi. Harbinder’s family accepts she is gay but has yet to meet any of her girlfriends. (One questions whether she has met any yet.)
Her one minor vice aside from an occasional glass of wine is a slight addiction to playing “Panda Pop” on her phone. She quickly answers an ad and becomes the third roommate in a London flat close to work. DI Kaur is ready to take on the responsibilities of her new job and the joy of living independently in a world capital.
VIVID SETTING NODS TO CLASSIC LITERATURE
The fictional Manor Park School is considered to be rather posh although it is a comprehensive day school and not one of the fee paid elite public boarding schools. Located in the upscale neighborhood of Chelsea, it is attended by the offspring of left-leaning politicians, barristers, affluent artistic types, upwardly mobile business classes and poorer families who live on the fringes of the area.
The school is definitely not picturesque and ivy-covered, as it was built in the loosely interpreted latter Bauhaus, read blocky sixties moderne style, which would not win any architectural awards.
There is an actual site named “Bleeding Heart Yard” featured in Charles Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit and it has been named in other novels, short stories and a poem. There is a rather gruesome, yet dubious legend about a murder which purportedly occurred in 1837 in this cobbled courtyard off Greville Street in Camden, a borough of London. (Dickens placed Fagin’s residence down the block from Greville.)
A fine French restaurant is located at the corner and referenced in this mystery as being a favorite place to dine by character Gary Rice MP, who is killed at the Manor Park School reunion.
ELLY GRIFFITHS IS AN EXPERT IN CRIME WRITING
Elly Griffiths earned a master’s degree in Victorian literature and then worked in the publishing industry as an editorial director before writing five books under her birth name Domenica de Rosa.
When she began writing crime fiction, she chose the now familiar pseudonym and launched the beloved Dr. Ruth Galloway series about a crime-solving archeologist. The Brighton mysteries, set shortly after WWII, debuted in 2015, with The Zig Zag Girl about a group of magicians who had worked together in intelligence operations and now team up to solve capital crimes.
She also teaches university courses in creative writing, is married and has two adult children. Elly Griffiths was awarded the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger in the Library for her collected works in 2016.
More recently, she added a delightful children’s WWII era mystery series featuring a girl named Justice Jones. The Crossing Places, the first book in the Ruth Galloway series won the Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2011. The Stranger Diaries, her first stand-alone novel won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2020. The following year, The Postscript Murders, was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger.
READERS WILL CRAVE A SEQUEL TO THIS STAND-ALONE
Bleeding Heart Yard is also described by the author as a “stand-alone” novel but all three books share the same detective Harbinder Kaur who has been promoted from Detective Sergeant (DS) to Detective Inspector (DI). All three novels have multiple voice narration, an ensemble cast of characters, surprising plot twists and an intelligent, upbeat dynamo of a detective named Harbinder as the anchor.
DI Kaur is one of the more interesting crime solvers to come along in years. Each book has added details to what is known about her. Elly Griffiths may not have planned to write another series, but the evidence belies this: it already exists. As Procol Harum’s late Gary Brooker hauntingly played piano and sang, “And the crowd called out for more.”
About Elly Griffiths:
Elly Griffiths is a novelist with several books under her name. She gets her inspiration from her husband and herself, who are both archaeologists, and her aunt who used to fill her head with many tales when she was a little girl. Elly has two children with her husband and they live near Brighton. When Elly is not digging up bones, she is writing her beloved novels. Although The Crossing Places is not her first novel, it is her very first crime novel.
Publish Date: November 15, 2022
Author: Elly Griffiths
Page Count: 352 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books