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The Blood Detective [Hardcover]

Dan Waddell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 27.68 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

June 2008

When the naked, mutilated body of a man is found in a Notting Hill graveyard and the police investigation led by Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his colleague Detective Superintendent Heather Jenkins yields few results, a closer look at the corpse reveals  that what looked at first glance like superficial knife wounds on the victim’s chest is actually a string of carved letters and numbers, an index number referring to a file in city archives containing birth and death certificates and marriage licenses. Family historian Nigel Barnes is put on the case. As one after another victim is found in various locations all over London, each with a different mutilation but the same index number carved into their skin, Barnes and the police work frantically to figure out how the corresponding files are connected. With no clues to be found in the present, Barnes must now search the archives of the past to solve the mystery behind a string of 100-year-old murders. Only then will it be possible to stop the present series of gruesome killings, but will they be able to do so before the killer ensnares his next victim? Barnes, Foster, and Jenkins enter a race against time – and before the end of the investigation, one of them will get much too close for comfort.

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From Publishers Weekly

In British journalist Waddell's solid fiction debut, a police procedural, Scotland Yard recruits genealogist Nigel Barnes to assist in solving a grisly series of murders in London. The victims vary in gender, age and means of death, but the corpses are all marked with 1A137. Barnes determines that the number refers to the death certificate of Albert Beck, an 1879 murder victim who was stabbed to death in a churchyard on the same date as one of the modern victims. Digging deeper, Barnes discovers that Beck was one of five victims attributed to the so-called Kensington Killer and that Eke Fairbairn was tried and executed for the crimes. Evidence suggests that Fairbairn was wrongfully convicted and that a distant descendant is taking revenge on the relatives of those involved in the 19th-century prosecution. Waddell's adept characterization and pacing make for an exciting start to a new series, though some readers may find the coincidence at the denouement too improbable. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Advance Praise for The Blood Detective:

“A fascinating and original investigation into the dark roots of our family trees.”-- Val McDermid, author of The Grave Tattoo and The Torment of Others

“A new trick in an old game is always welcome, particularly  when it's performed with panache, and  there's panache a-plenty in this intriguing tale of a murder investigation that  needs a genealogist's expertise to find the solution.  Sharp plotting, elegant writing, engaging characters, a cracking climax - and the expertise is  always interesting!  A series is promised. Bring it on!”--Reginald Hill, author of Death Comes for the Fat Man and The Spy’s Wife


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A wrongful death sentence from over one hundred years and the grisly murders of five people in central London reverberate throughout the bloody hands of time from 1879 to the present day in this gruesome but always compelling account of the insidiousness of human nature and the lengths that a vicious killer will go to exact revenge. Blood Detective introduces us to DCI Grant Foster and DS Heather Jenkins and the chiseled featured DI Andy Drinkwater, all three heading up the West London Murder Command and all called to grounds of St Johns Church, on the hill by Ladbroke Grove where a horrific discovery lies in wait. The body is of a male in his early thirties. But truly shocks the detectives are the hands, or rather the lack of them, at the end of both arms are just livid, fleshy stumps, jagged bone protruding, the cause of death, a single stab wound to the heart while the chest is covered with superficial cuts. The only indication that anyone around was a drunk woman, by the name of Ciderwoman a derelict, who often used part of the churchyard where the body was found, but she's antagonistic and belligerent and can offer little input into who she saw that night.

It isn't until the official post-mortem that Foster sees certain cuts on the man's chest, the outlines of each cut resembling the five figures. The cuts were made after death and most possibly meant for the eyes of the investigators. A grim and determined mood sets the scene for this dark and bloody investigation. The man, James Darbyshire, a bank trader, was last seen with friends drinking in one of the local pubs.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it. Dec 10 2008
I've never read a modern day, English novel. The different wording threw me off a few times, but being a bit of a family history enthusiast, I enjoyed reading this book. Will pick up the next book by the same author.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept that somewhat fizzles out at end Oct. 18 2008
By hessa - Published on Amazon.com
Genealogist Nigel Barnes teams up with a couple cops in order to solve a string of serial killings in modern day London. Oddly, Nigel's genealogical research is much more interesting--and convincing--than the work done by law enforcement. The author seems iffy on actual police procedures, but quite knowledgeable on the secrets of tracing one's past.

The writing in this book is generally rich and well-crafted, carrying it through some rather serious plot holes. Why, for example, doesn't the London Police Force hire more than just one genealogist to help them when the clock is ticking until the next murder? Although the book is engrossing, the ultimate unveiling of the killer is not terribly satisfying. I will probably check out the sequel to see if its ending packs a bigger punch, and if Waddell eases up on the long, rambling historical details which somewhat slow the pace of The Blood Detective.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Detective by Dan Waddell Nov. 8 2009
By Susie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm an avid fan of police procedural series, mostly Nordic and Euro.

Waddell's Blood Detective is a great introduction to a new series.

The story is set in England. There are three main characters, all well defined, and special in their own ways.

I especially like Nigel Barnes, a genealogist. The murder investigation is mostly done by Barnes' research through birth, marriage and death certificates.

The story is well written, perfectly paced from the first to the last page with no wasted words.

I ordered the second book, BLOOD ATONEMENT, a Nigel Barnes mystery novel immediately after I finished BLOOD DETECTIVE.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1st in genealogist mystery series is gritty and compelling March 28 2011
By Christina Lockstein - Published on Amazon.com
The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell is the first book in a new mystery series starring London genealogist Nigel Barnes. Barnes has recently returned to his work as a family history researcher after an unsuccessful attempt to become a university professor. He's frustrated at the lack of work within the occupation until hired by police detective Grant Foster and his partner Heather Jenkins to discover the meaning behind a code carved into the body of a murdered body found in a churchyard. The code refers to a record at the Family Records Centre which Barnes discovers traces back to a murderer known as the Kensington Killer who stabbed five men to death in 1879. As Foster, Jenkins, and Barnes investigate the 1879 case, they quickly discover that the current victims are tied to that century old case. Who would have thought that Waddell could take the dusty hobby of genealogy and turned it into an exciting and completely thrilling murder mystery. He uses the past to good effect as each person associated with the case has a secret in their own history. The writing is gritty, believable, and thoroughly compelling. Waddell gets extra points from me for laying out the clues for readers so I knew the motive and murderer before the main characters. I will definitely be following up on this series.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars strong police procedural June 15 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Scotland Yard hires genealogist Nigel Barnes as a consultant to their investigation into ghastly serial killings haunting London. The only link between the victims besides a gruesome death is each corpse is marked with "1A137".

Barnes follows up on the death number and soon realizes it is the number on the death certificate filed in 1879 for murder victim Albert Beck, who was stabbed to death in a churchyard. As he widens his historical search, he learns that Beck was one of the five victims allegedly murdered by the Kensington Killer; Eke Fairbairn was arrested as such, tried and executed. Further evidence seems to imply Eke was innocent and an apparent descendant is avenging his undeserved execution by executing relatives of the prosecution.

Although the climax seems implausible, readers will relish this strong police procedural with a fascinating lead character, who uses genealogy to uncover nineteenth century clues to a present day serial killer. The story line is fast-paced, but held together by Nigel as he begins to piece together the puzzle. He will remind the audience somewhat of Rhett McPherson's Missouri genealogist Torie O'Shea. Fans will enjoy this fine English whodunit while looking forward to more such cases starring Nigel.

Harriet Klausner
3.0 out of 5 stars Nigel Barnes, the unlikely hero July 30 2013
By Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
A pair of serial killers - An unlikely protagonist races against time to stop a brutal series of killings.

A genealogist named Nigel Barnes delves into the past to track down the truth about a serial killer in 1879 to help the police catch a present day killer that appears to be related...somehow. The killings have started. Can Nigel uncover the truth in time to stop history repeating itself? 3.5 Stars.
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