The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell

A review of the crime thriller novel The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell.

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The Blood Detective is Dan Waddell’s – the man behind the television series Who Do You Think You Are? – first venture in writing fiction. The story revolves around a series of murders happening in modern day London that mimic a spate of killings from the 1870s. The only clue the police have is scratch marks on the body that refer to the cataloguing system of The Family Records Centre. Enlisting the help of Nigel Barnes, a well-known genealogy specialist, the detectives start to look for a link between past and present.

I actually quite liked this book. The characters are well-developed, but far from perfect. Finding out their secrets along the way, the story moves at a steady pace. The reader follows the process of tracing descendants but in a way which is not boring, too technical or patronising. For a change the police are not inept or stupid. They do not sit around waiting for the ‘hero’ to catch the killer.

I found the characters to be affable and was told enough information about them. The writing is very good. Mr Waddell does not over-describe things, realising that the reader probably knows what a table looks like. Obviously, the murders are covered in more detail and, although quite gruesome, they are not sensationalised to try to shock the reader.

This is a very clever novel as it keeps you guessing right until the end: something that many writers struggle to do. I feel there is a chance some readers may find the story a little far-fetched, but I did not. It is interesting to read how crimes were reported in Victorian times and what was important to the populace of London back then. Waddell even provides a very brief back story of the London Underground and some of the Capital’s landmarks.

If you are looking for a fast paced novel full of horrific murders, this is probably not the book for you. However, I found it to be an intelligent, well-written story and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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