The Blood Detective
Dan Waddell
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *The Blood Detective* by Dan Waddell online

The Blood Detective
Dan Waddell
St. Martin's Minotaur
304 pages
June 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

buy this book now or browse millions of other great products at
previous reviewnext review

As the years fall away and the atmosphere of the time rises up from the murk, the gruesome events of 1879 return to haunt West London where a tale of revenge plays out and a possibly innocent man was hanged. From census records, birth and death registers, old newspapers and marriage indexes, author Dan Waddell levitates the delicate tendrils of a group of family histories through time into a compelling account of the insidiousness of human nature and the lengths to which a vicious killer will go to exact revenge.

DCI Grant Foster, DS Heather Jenkins, and the chiseled DI Andy Drinkwater of the West London Murder Command are called to grounds of St. Johns Church to investigate a gruesome discovery. A male in his early thirties lies dead; his hands gone, the ends of both arms are livid, now only fleshy stumps with jagged bone protruding. The cause of death seems to be a single stab wound to the heart.

It isn’t until the official post-mortem that Foster sees certain cuts on the man’s chest, the outlines of each resembling the five figures which might be index numbers to family records. It also seems as though they were made after death and were probably meant for the eyes of the investigators. A grim but determined mood sets the scene for this dark and bloody investigation. There seems to be no explanation why the man, bank trader James Darbyshire, last seen with friends drinking in one of the Ladbroke Grove pubs, would ever have been murdered.

The inimitable Foster is the first to realize that the crime is beyond the usual mundane murderous language of drugs, money, rage and envy. Frustrated that the killer has left no detail, no trace, clue or weapon at the scene, and that no witnesses had come forward and that there is no obvious motive, Foster uses the one piece of information that might be able flick the switch and illuminate the investigation.

Perhaps Nigel Barnes, a specialist in genealogy, holds the key as the family historian is asked by Foster to delve deep into long-held indexes. As Nigel loses himself in the bureaucratic traces of the long-departed, the bodies begin to pile up, each one more mutilated then the last - a head scalped and another with eyes horrifically gouged out. Then the case gets a break when Nigel discovers the death certificate of a man found stabbed to death in the grounds of St. Johns Church back in March 1879, the same date that James Darbyshire’s body was discovered.

Suddenly everything takes on new meaning as Grant and Nigel, Heather and Andy stumble onto information that has thus far eluded them. The only constant is the reference and the fact that the place and time accord with a series of murders in 1879. As the narrative accelerates towards its gruesome conclusion, the Squad is surrounded by a past that has until now been buried and hidden. Dark secrets offer a glimpse behind London’s net curtains and the serial killers “who write their name into London legend.”

A compelling peek into the darker side of human nature, The Blood Detective proves the past cannot be erased so easily and that it always seeps back through the soil, “like blood through the sand.” The novel is a genealogist's panacea and provides some fascinating lessons in family history research while also serving as a fast-paced, well-plotted thriller that lays bare the essential foundations of human depravity. Waddell uses his journalistic sensibilities to great effect, accelerating the story at breakneck speed, his narrative always focused and controlled. Although much of the story remains formulaic police procedural, the author’s powerful writing style holds up the tension well into the final blood-churning clash between killer and cop that proves once and for all that the past is neither banished or ignored.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2009

Also by Dan Waddell:

buy *The Blood Detective* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.