Elly Griffiths: Bleeding Heart Yard

In DS (Detective Sergeant) Harbinder Kaur’s third jaunt, Bleeding Heart Yard, she’s been promoted to DI (Detective Inspector). Author Elly Griffiths never lets her characters stay stagnant, and this latest entry is no exception. Harbinder is looking toward the future in every way – she’s living in a new city, has new roommates, and has her own team of detectives to command in her new position. Being away from her family and friends is a big adjustment to her life, but it’s lovely to see her making positive changes. Of course, her first case is focused entirely on the rest of the character’s pasts.

Bleeding Heart Yard introduces us to Cassie Fitzgerald. As readers, we know from the start she was involved in a murder over twenty years ago. She and her friends escaped legal repercussions, but never fully dealt with the emotional fallout of getting away with murder. When someone from her old friend group, Garfield Rice, turns up dead at a class reunion it seems all those old memories and sins are getting stirred up again. To make matters more complicated, Rice was a controversial MP. Many of the other members of The Group, as they called themselves, have become famous as well. There’s an actress, a rockstar, and another political figure.

Like Griffths’ other Harbinder Kaur novels, this one has chapters told from some of the suspects’ perspectives. The Group spends much of their narrative reminiscing about the past, particularly now that they’ve drifted apart as adults. Getting to see one another again drags up more than memories – there is at least one romance that bursts back to life before the ending. Despite lingering so often in years past, however, the story moves along at a brisk pace. There’s never a point where it lags, or slows down. I absolutely whipped through.

If there is a downside, it’s that Harbinder doesn’t get enough time in the spotlight. Given that Cassie is a police officer serving under Harbinder, she’s probably here to stay. This story can really be seen as her development and introduction into Harbinder’s world at large. That just leaves the reader with less time with our much loved main character, and puts the friends she made in The Postscript Murders in a cameo role.

All of the books in this now three book series are very different from one another.  The fist one, The Stranger Diaries, was a gothic ghost story; the second, The Postscript Murders, was a caper with comic overtones; and in this novel Griffiths is entering the suspense territory of a group-of-friends-with-a-past that’s very up to the minute.  Being an Elly Griffiths novel, it’s one of the best of this type of novel.

To me, after the eccentric sleuth side characters from Postscript, The Group just isn’t as fun. Cassie even describes herself as a background friend in her own former friend group, and there isn’t a lot of her to get invested in. However, the fast moving story nicely sets up Harbinder’s new life in London, and it gives Cassie a start to develop further later. I can’t wait to see what Griffiths has in store for Harbinder (and Cassie) next. — Margaret Agnew


Margaret Agnew is the Director of the Cahokia Public Library in Cahokia, Illinois.  A graduate of Ripon College and Indiana University, she has been a mystery fan and an avid reader from an early age.  She also reviews for Mystery Scene magazine.