The Blood Detective Hardcover – Large Print, Nov 2008
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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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
Waddell has an excellent cast to solve this mystery. Nigel is young, intelligent, and passionate about family history-- well, all history for that matter. He's not without his own skeleton in the closet, and as soon as I knew what it was, I was watching carefully to see how he deals with it. I'll leave that for you to discover for yourselves. His two police colleagues are interesting in their own ways. Heather Jenkins is the likable one of the pair, and although I really didn't care much for Grant Foster (I keep hearing that line from an old commercial, "Who's behind those Foster Grants?"), I certainly appreciated his character being fleshed out more by book's end.
The story in The Blood Detective is a bit like that snowball going downhill, gaining size and momentum till the powerful crash at the end. I enjoyed the journey, possibly because there are no clues to be found in the present. Barnes has to spend a lot of time in newspaper archives and records offices to piece everything together, and watching how he does it is fascinating. History and genealogy really do solve this crime. And Barnes' habit of tossing out name origins as he goes along? Pay attention. (Just a word to the wise. Besides, they're fun.)
I almost added this book to my Best Reads of 2015 list except for one thing, and it's something that doesn't happen to me very often. One scene toward the end was over-the-top with the pain and gore quotient. It had me tied up in a Gordian knot of quivering sympathy pain. I think of it as the "Annie Wilkes on steroids" scene. Be that as it may, I really enjoyed this book. Dan Waddell has joined fellow Englishman Steve Robinson in crafting mysteries steeped in family history that I just don't want to put down. I'm looking forward to meeting Nigel Barnes again-- soon!
[My copy of this book was purchased from Book Outlet.]
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.