Monday 19 September 2011

The Blood Detective

Autumn is well and truly with us now and thankfully things are quieter at the moment so I'm able to catch up a bit on my reading. I finished Barchester Towers *at last* (loved it but more on that at a later date) and have read another book for Carl's R.I.P. VI challenge. It was my third book and was The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell.

The mutilated body of a man is found in a London churchyard. His hands are missing and then DCI Grant Foster also discovers some numbers and a letter scratched onto the body. The police team have no idea what this means until DS Heather Jenkins suggests it might be the index number required when certificates are ordered for tracing your family history. Her mother traced hers recently and it reminds her of that. They contact the researcher her mother used, Nigel Barnes, and he and the team set about investigating at various archives.

Another murder is committed with the same thing scratched onto the body and then it's discovered that a tramp who died before all this started was also a victim of what appears to be a serial killer. But what is it all about? Through some patient research Barnes discovers a link with five murders back in 1879. Are these copy-cat killings? There has to be a reason that someone is doing this. And the most pressing question, who will be the next to die? Can the team solve the riddle in time to save the lives of two more potential victims?

Reading this book was quite like watching an episode of the family history TV series, Who Do You Think You Are?, which is appropriate as Dan Waddell wrote a book of that title, presumably connected to the TV programme. I'm a great fan of the programme so that was fine by me, I found everything about the plot fascinating and and couldn't put the book down.

At first I wasn't sure if it was suitable for R.I.P. but then the connection with some very macabre killings in Victorian times appeared and I realised it very much was. Most of the book takes part in the present day but there are occasional flash-backs which are atmospheric and creepy and very well done. The author clearly knows London very well and as he almost takes you on a tour of the city's streets, not only as they are now as but they once were.

I loved all the family history stuff. Some might find all the details of the research a little tedious but to me it was fascinating. I had no idea that some of these archives are so popular and busy and that arguments break out over books of records. Genealogy is obviously a really popular pastime now!

Character-wise I suppose I found the book 'so-so'. Maybe the author could have delved a little deeper. We're given some background information about the various investigating officers and Nigel Barnes but it was a trifle sketchy. But then this is a book about a series of horrifying murders and as such it's appropriate really that the author concentrated on that. Plus there is another book - and maybe more after that, I don't know - so presumably we'll find out more as the books progress.

I own the second book, Blood Atonement, and will certainly be reading that at some stage. Book one was an easy, quick read, well plotted - I didn't guess the culprit until near the end when it became obvious - and is what one would term 'a real pageturner'... perfect for R.I.P.


DesLily said...

I do like *pageturners* as long as I don't find myself skimming which I have done now and then, not because I want to but because of the need to read faster lol.. sheesh. Glad you liked this one (yet another series eh? lol lol)

Val said...

I love your reviews Cath and I'm adding this one to the list of tbr :0)
Thanks !

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I liked this one too - even if the ending was rather too gory and horrific for me.

Jodie Robson said...

Sounds promising, Cath! I think I could go for genealogical research - sort of archaeology but more recent :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, this one sounds like I would like it very much. Think I can get it on Kindle? Good to hear about what you're reading. I've been thinking about you lately. Thanks for writing about this one as it was completely new to me. :-)

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

Yet another new author to add to my ever-growing list.

This sounds like a great book to me, although I hope that the references to genealogy don't detract from the underlying murder story too much.

I also am a great fan of genealogical research and as recent converts to 'Who Do You Think You Are', watch religiously now.

My mother-in-law got me interested in the while concept whilst tracing her own family tree and I have now managed to convert hubbie as well, and not before time!!

Dan has also written several other non-fiction books, but someone needs to tell him that his website is pretty awful, take a look and see if you can read it!!!

In answer to Kay's comment, yes this book is available on kindle, but it is much ore expensive than a new printed copy, so personally I can't see the point.

A good honest review Cath.


Kailana said...

lol I do the same thing as Pat... Skim sometimes because a book is a page-turner!

Cath said...

Pat: I know what you mean... sort of reading too fast to take it all in. Yep, another series but luckily it's only a series of two at the moment, so that's fine.

Val: Thanks. Hope your list isn't as long as mine. 8-S

Margaret: Yes, the end was almost a bit too much. It surprised me a bit to be honest.

GeraniumCat: I have done a bit of family history, into my Cornish lot. Found out my great grandmother was almost certainly illegitimate but so far haven't summomed up the courage to tell anyone. LOL.

Kay: I'm not sure if this one is available on Kindle in US or not. I got mine on holiday in a supermarket, two for the price of one.

I hope you're settling in and will soon be back with us properly.

Yvonne: No, imo, the genealogy stuff doesn't detract. I think the author has achieved just the right balance.

Who Do You Think You Are? is an excellent programme and they've had some interesting people and stories this series. What I find intriguing is how most of the celebrities seem to have someone well known or famous in their background or their ancestors excelled at something or other or did something heroic. Makes you wonder if there is something in their genes.

I'll pop over and look at Dan's website in a moment.

Kelly: I know... it's like the book zooms along at such a pace that you're trying to keep ahead by skimming. LOL.

Nan said...

I think this is a little over my personal edge, but you wrote a great review, Cath!

Susan said...

*adds another book to her to-buy list*

I'm going out book shopping tomorrow night, so I'll be looking for this one. It sounds fascinating, gory killers, historical events, and genealogy. I just picked up a fantasy that also uses genealogy, Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith, so maybe this is a new trend? since I love genealogy - am tracing our family history now, have been for a few years - I'm curious to see how these two genres use it. Thanks for the really good review, Cath!

Cath said...

Nan: Thank you. But yes... possibly not your kind of thing.

Susan: I did some family history a few years back and loved it. Also love Who Do You Think You Are? So this book was right up my street. Interesting to hear of a fantasy book with that background... I shall look that up. I certainly think you would love Blood Detective.