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)
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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)