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The Blood Detective (Nigel Barnes #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  808 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews

When the naked, mutilated body of a man is found in a Notting Hill graveyard and the police investigation led by Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his colleague Detective Superintendent Heather Jenkins yields few results, a closer look at the corpse reveals that what looked at first glance like superficial knife wounds on the victim’s chest is actually a string

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Jan 30, 2009 Trilby rated it really liked it
'Got through this book in two evenings. What fascinated me about it is the researcher-character, Nigel Barnes. Barnes spends most of his time rooting through dusty archives, trying to piece together information. Since I've done my share of that, I think he's really cool. The mystery (a series of murders in London) is solved via a combination of historical research and police work. The plot could best be described as "well made" but nevertheless creates a good deal of suspense.
The Blood Detective (Nigel Barnes #1)

pub 2007
myst> audio> rosado
summer 2013> tbr busting 2013
brit> eng> london> labroke grove
first in series AND debut novel

Copycat killings of victorian crimes. Interesting geneological murder mystery. This series has great potential
Dec 25, 2008 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funniest book I've read in a while which is funny in itself because this is supposed to be a crime novel. There's a serial killer in London carving strange references on bodies so naturally the police call in the nearest professional researcher of family history. But he's tortured in the way that all good heroes are so obviously it's all good. This book is currently doing the rounds of those of us who work in archives and other family history related professions but unfortunately for all the wro ...more
Jun 20, 2010 Martha rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, genealogy
Although the plot of this book was pretty far-fetched (as most plots based on the theme of ancestral revenge tend to be), and I found the genealogist hero somewhat pitiful as heroes go, I gave this four stars for two interrelated reasons. First of all, unlike most novels with a genealogy theme, this one actually described the hero doing real historical research, and his research skills were key to solving the mystery and saving the day. How could any librarian and genealogist not swoon over that ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Blood Detective is a nice, solid fiction debut by British journalist, Dan Waddell. In this police procedural a man's naked body is found mutilated and stabbed to death in a London church yard. It's not until the autopsy that Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster sees that the part of the mutilation on the man's chest is a notation of some sort: 1A137. In a brainstorming session, Foster's assistant DS Heather Jenkins suggests that it might be the reference number for a marriage, birth or dea ...more
Janette Fleming
As dawn breaks over London, the body of a young man is discovered in a windswept Notting Hill churchyard. The killer has left Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his team a grisly, cryptic clue...However, it's not until the clue is handed to Nigel Barnes, a specialist in compiling family trees, that the full message becomes spine-chillingly clear. For, it leads Barnes back more than one hundred years - to the victim of a demented Victorian serial killer...When a second body is discovered ...more
Lynn Spencer
Aug 20, 2014 Lynn Spencer rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Definitely a mystery with an unusual twist to it. A gruesome murder in London contains clues on the mutilated body that lead the investigating detectives to start tracing old genealogical records in order to try to find a killer before he strikes again. Along the way, they enlist the aid of Nigel Barnes, a professional genealogist. The detectives know crime, but Nigel knows how to navigate his way through the various birth, death, census and other records that can give everyone clues to what is ...more
Liz De Coster
Dec 05, 2008 Liz De Coster rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The mystery in this book was reasonably interesting, but what really caught me was the actual involvement of historical information and genealogy. Many books of this type - crime novels "with a twist" or some other special interest factor - the twist feels shoehorned in or arbitrary. In this book, the historical component felt real, and was actually interesting in its own right. I'm skeptical that this would be able to be turned into a series, since I would imagine the believable plotlines invol ...more
May 20, 2014 Saoirse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Saoirse by: Touloulou
Shelves: mistery, read-in-2014
J'ai fait une petite pause dans ma lecture d'un gros pavé que je n'arrive pas à avancer pour lire celui-ci. J'ai bien fait, je l'ai dévoré en à peine deux jours. Un polar qui se déroule à Londres et dont l'enquête est résolue grâce à la généalogie, ça ne pouvait que me plaire. J'ai trouvé que c'était bien écrit, les personnages sont attachants, l'histoire originale. Vraiment très sympa.
Du coup je suis allée chercher le deuxième tome à la bibliothèque et j'ai même vu qu'il y en avait un troisième
Nov 25, 2011 Tria rated it really liked it
Certainly an interesting read, with fascinating information on genealogical research, but as a mystery a bit predictable in places. Entertaining though.
Jun 12, 2017 Joe rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Blood Detective is the debut of genealogist Nigel Barnes who does more than simply trace back family trees. In this mystery/police procedural Nigel is called in by Scotland Yard to help apprehend a serial killer, as it appears that the current grisly murders they are investigating are all tied to a set of events and individuals from 180 years ago. Nigel, initially the quirky egg-head assisting with the investigation, is soon leading the hunt for the killer.

This book gets an “A” for premise but u
May 12, 2017 Janet rated it really liked it
An amazing plot but not for the faint of heart.
Sarah Broadhurst
May 04, 2017 Sarah Broadhurst rated it really liked it
unusual detective story, enjoyed reading it, very gripping
Rosario (
When you've got a handless body to investigate, you might be tempted not too pay too much attention to some superficial scratches on the torso. DCI Grant Foster, however, is more perceptive than most, and he notices that the scratches form letters and numbers. What do they mean, though? He's stumped, but they look familiar to his colleage, DS Heather Jenkins. Heather's mother recently investigated their family history, and the carved characters remind her of the index references which so flummox ...more
Anne Wright
Feb 09, 2016 Anne Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime, mystery, thriller readers
The Blood Detective by Dan Waddel

This is Dan Waddell lives in London with his son The Blood Detective is his debut novel published in 2008, most of other books where factual ones. Most notable is the book to the TV programme ‘Who Do You Think You are.’ Living in London gives him a good insight to the area written about in the book. His work with the TV programme and book to go with it ‘Who do you think you are’ makes him a reliable source for the family research part of the book.
The books theme

It's not the best start to DCI Grant Foster's day: standing over a mutilated body in a windswept London churchyard. Although the killer has left a cryptic and brutal clue.

It is only when the clue is handed to Nigel Barnes, a specialist in compiling family trees, that the full message becomes spine-chillingly clear. For it leads Barnes back more than one hundred years - to the victim of a demented Victorian serial killer.

If you're looking for a slightly different twist to the sta
May 05, 2014 John rated it it was ok
Bodies start turning up in London's Notting Hill region, and cops Grant Foster and Heather Jenkins are hot on the case. The first body that they realize is actually part of the case (another, earlier murder is tied in later) is grossly mutilated and has the enigmatic message "1A137" engraved into the flesh. Jenkins vaguely remembers that, when her mum did some family history a couple of years back, some of the records that had to be consulted were referenced using a combination of letters and nu ...more
Cathy Cole
Jul 21, 2015 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it
There's a nice little subgenre in crime fiction that's all about genealogy and how crimes committed in the past have a way of causing even more grief in the present. As main character Nigel Barnes says, "Anyone who seeks to forget the past has a corpse in the basement," and that's exactly what's happened in The Blood Detective. A crime was committed in the past and swiftly forgotten by almost everyone. Notice I said "almost."

Waddell has an excellent cast to solve this mystery. Nigel is young, in
Nov 13, 2016 PrettyFlamingo rated it really liked it
This story potentially had everything I love – police procedurals, a good mystery, and genealogy. As a historian and a genealogist I was sure I couldn’t fail to be hooked. And I wasn’t far wrong. I didn’t really connect with the DCI in the way I had with, say, Alan Banks, and there were some very gory moments that I’m not altogether sure I cared for, but it was a solid, excellent read. I felt it ingenious linking genealogy with police work – though how many times it can be done is questionable. ...more
Jun 15, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Op de kaft staat het genre Genealogische Thriller vermeld. Het woord 'thriller' dat staat voor spannend, dat begrijp ik nog wel. Maar bij 'genealogisch' heb je het over de geschiedenis van de stamboom. Lijkt op zich best een stoffig onderwerp. Maar is die combinatie dan wel geslaagd? Ja, dat is zo. Ten minste wel bij dit boek.

Het verhaal begint in het Londen van nu. Op een kerkhof wordt een lichaam van een man gevonden. De handen ontbreken en op het lichaam zijn krassen te zien. Deze krassen bli
Aug 10, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
I am a faithful follower of the BBC’s series “Waking The Dead” which is carried by PBS in my area. There is something fascinating about going back to a crime that has remained unsolved; innumerable cable channels carry a daily dose of repeats of 48 HOURS and DATELINE in which the dead are awarded some kind of justice or, at least, brief notoriety years after their deaths.

Dan Waddell’s BLOOD DETECTIVE gives the reader an opportunity to consider the generational memory of a killer looking for retr
Sandra Danby
I raced through this book, a hybrid mixture of crime and genealogy mystery. Author Dan Waddell is also a journalist and genealogist, having written ‘The Genealogy Handbook’ to accompany the ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ television series. So, he knows his stuff and it shows. Usually a crime novel features a lead detective and team, here we have two lead characters: Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster, and genealogist Nigel Barnes.
Waddell’s plotting is ingenious. The past really does come back
Dec 18, 2014 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As dawn breaks over London, the body of a young man is discovered in a windswept Notting Hill churchyard. The killer has left Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his team a grisly, cryptic clue...However, it's not until the clue is handed to Nigel Barnes, a specialist in compiling family trees, that the full message becomes spine-chillingly clear. For, it leads Barnes back more than one hundred years - to the victim of a demented Victorian serial killer...When a second body is discovered ...more
Christy Lockstein

The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell is the first book in a new mystery series starring London genealogist Nigel Barnes. Barnes has recently returned to his work as a family history researcher after an unsuccessful attempt to become a university professor. He's frustrated at the lack of work within the occupation until hired by police detective Grant Foster and his partner Heather Jenkins to discover the meaning behind a code carved into the body of a murdered body found in a churchyard. The code
Jon Frum
Jan 05, 2015 Jon Frum rated it it was ok
I can't imagine this book getting better than two (It's OK) stars - but there you go. I'd call this book moderately interesting, with flaws that can't be ignored.

"But Foster was in no mood to be optimistic. When he sniffed the air, he noticed only one smell: trouble."

"Detective Heather Jenkins, her wild black hair tied back in a ponytail..."

And that's just on the first page.

And also from the first page - what is it with this genre and smoking? Are mystery readers all butt fiends? Most of the
Mar 19, 2013 Gail rated it did not like it
I see all the high ratings on this book and that it was a Macavity Award nominee for best mystery. I love character driven mysteries, they are my favorite fiction to read especially when the author doesn't rely on gore or torture{ewww} to tell a story. Yes, this book is well written and with well drawn characters that draw you into the story right away, but...Honestly, the characters all, all just left me cold. They were all so chilly and clinically drawn like out of a test tube with no true bel ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
I do enjoy a good crime novel and that's a fact, however all to often I am disappointed either with the plot being too damn obvious or the character just being a bit flat and all the same. Therefore I was happily surprised to find this book with not only a brilliant plot, but also a very interesting way of getting round the boring concept of a middle age male, 'work is everything', detective with some sort of ghost in the closet.
This character is still there in DCI Grant Foster, but the main ch
Anne Hawn Smith
Oct 18, 2010 Anne Hawn Smith rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating. I enjoy books which flip between different centuries and this was a good one. A murder victim is found with what look like scratches, but turn out to be a file reference to the city archives. Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his partner Detective Superintendent Heather Jenkins get Nigel Barnes, a local genealogist, to help with the reference. Soon this murder is followed by another and another. All the time the detectives are following the clues to the murder ...more
Cleo Bannister
The story is written at a pace starting with the body found in a London churchyard, Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster leads the investigation. Due to clues left at the scene the police decide they need to look at the past to solve the present murder and engage Nigel Barnes a family historian to help them out by trawling through records and old newspapers to help them.

Dan Waddell is the journalist commissioned to work on the book accompanying the series 'Who Do You Think You Are?' so he unde
Barb in Maryland
Aug 28, 2013 Barb in Maryland rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Very interesting mystery with a neat twist and engaging characters.

DCI Grant Foster (at least he doesn't walk around wearing sunglasses all the time), Detective Heather Jenkins and crew are on the trail of a serial killer who is carving cryptic clues into the bodies of his victims. The clue leads them to Nigel Barnes, genealogy expert, who helps them decipher the clue. Once Nigel starts digging it becomes clear that the current crime spree is tied to a Victorian era serial killer. But how and wh
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Goodreads Librari...: change description to dutch 2 23 Mar 19, 2016 04:22AM  
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Dan Waddell is a journalist and author who lives in west London. He has published ten non-fiction books, including the bestselling Who Do You Think You Are?, which tied in with the successful BBC TV series. The Blood Detective is his first novel.

* Nigel Barnes
More about Dan Waddell...

Other Books in the Series

Nigel Barnes (3 books)
  • Blood Atonement (Nigel Barnes #2)
  • La moisson des innocents

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