Crime Fiction Alphabet: W is for Dan Waddell

I’m not sure whether  The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell is historical crime fiction or genealogical crime fiction. One thing is certain it is crime fiction and one that I was thoroughly immersed in. If I gave books stars on this blog I would have given it 5 stars, if only the ending wasn’t so graphic. It’s the sort of scene that if I was watching it on TV it would have had me peeping through my fingers or even covering my eyes completely until it was over. There are bits of graphic violence earlier in the book, which I could just about cope with, but the grisly stuff at the end was a step too far for me.

That said it’s a fascinating fast-paced book linking the crimes of the past – the events of 1879 – to a series of murders in the present. DCI Grant Foster enlists the help of genealogist Nigel Barnes to track down the killer who has left cryptic clues carved into his victims’ bodies.

I used to work with archives, much of it helping people track down their family histories and so was very familiar with the sources Nigel uses to discover the original killer. I loved the way Waddell wove this into his story. Nigel Barnes is a convincing character and manages to solve both the modern day murders and the historical ones too, not only through family history but also through working out the topography of London through the years.  I loved that part of the book.

Dan Waddell as well as writing crime novels is the author of Who Do You think You Are?, the accompanying book of the TV series – one of my favourites, so it’s no surprise that The Blood Detective is so good on genealogy. He has his own website and also writes regularly on the Murder is Everywhere blog. His next book featuring Nigel Barnes is Blood Atonement and despite my phobia about graphic violence I’m planning to read that one too.

The Blood Detective

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 9780141025650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141025650
  • ASIN: 0141025654
  • Source: library book

The Crime Fiction Alphabet is hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. All you have to do is write a post relating to the letter of the week – either the first letter of the book title or of the author’s first or second name.

7 thoughts on “Crime Fiction Alphabet: W is for Dan Waddell

  1. Margaret – This does sound like an interesting read. I’m not one for a lot of gore, but I do really like books that link past and present like that. I’m going to have to look for this one and steel myself for the ending.


  2. Oh, I just bought this and another one by this author from The Book People. They were fill-ins to get free postage so I’m really pleased to hear this one is so good.


  3. Hi Margaret, thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad to hear one of my buds that love Agatha are also painting. The bird in the broken window is in oils. I sort of limit myself with oil, simply because it takes so long to dry and I’m so impatient. I generally paint in acrylics, and now in watercolour. But I love all sorts of medium, even pencil crayons.


  4. I try very hard to fit as much genealogy into my week as I possibly can. Have had lots of luck with my family but not so much with Dave’s. His grandfather was born in London but moved around the world so much he’s hard to track. Someday I’ll figure out where he was at any given time throughout his life. This sounds like a good series for me to read.


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