The Blood Doctor
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The Blood Doctor

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  1,002 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Sometimes it’s best to leave the past alone. For when biographer Martin Nanther looks into the life of his famous great-grandfather Henry, Queen Victoria’s favorite physician, he discovers some rather unsettling coincidences, like the fact that the doctor married the sister of his recently murdered fiancée. The more Martin researches his distant relative, the more fascinat...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,593)
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Bea Alden
The first time I read this book, I thought it a bit too clever. But this time - I liked it a lot. It's a mystery about the life of one man, now dead, woven amongst a complicated set of characters on a family tree, or rather, a couple of family trees. It is, in effect, a puzzle. If you're in the mood for solving puzzles, this is the book for you. And also, of course, it's written with Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine's always skillful evocation of place, people and psychology.
Nancy (Hrdcovers)
All indications, when looking at the cover of this book, lead the reader to believe that this will be one of Vine's psychological thrillers. I figured that some surgeon, obsessed with blood, would be traveling the British Isles with scalpel in hand looking for his next victim. But the reader of this book must look a little closer at the two words following the title, THE BLOOD DOCTOR. Those two words are "A Novel." This changes everything.
More on the lines of Vine's A Chimney Sweeper's Boy, this...more
Martin Nanther is writing a biography of his great-grandfather Henry, a famous Victorian doctor and hemophilia expert, as the same time as he faces some large issues in his personal life: his wife is obsessed with having a baby, and his seat in the House of Lords is about to be abolished.

As in A Dark-Adapted Eye, I really liked how Vine weaves together the past and present history of a family. One would think that the connection would be less immediate here than in A Dark-Adapted Eye, where the...more
Aug 24, 2008 Lisa rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Janice @ esporta book club
This was confusing - so many names! I think the best way to read this book would be to photocopy the family trees at the front of the book and have them beside every page you read. Maybe even make notes. I didn't do either of these things (too busy this month and I didn't care that much) but I still persevered and at the end of the novel I don't think I was any worse off. I understood what was going on but it was a long (sometimes laborious) road to get there. I would only recommend this book to...more
3.5 stars

I thought this was interesting. Some parts are a bit overly technical, but it deals with a complicated process so that might have been unavoidable.

Martin is a journalist who starts researching his family history. Many people seemed to die around his great-grandfather - a Victorian physician and favourite with Queen Victoria, who seems to have a professional interest in Hemophilia. Martin's research leads to startling discoveries about his family history.

As well as the historical elemen...more
Nicole Hadaway
I loved The Minotaur by Vine, and though I never read A Dark Adapted Eye, I fell in love with the BBC version starring Helena Bonham Carter. These novels are more "whydunits" as opposed to 'whodunits", and it's definitely the characters and their motivations which drives the plot.

I had high hopes for this novel and let me say that it's certainly not bad. Her writing is definitely not for short attention spans or people who like everything all at once -- you have to wait for details, revelations...more
Yet another book set in Victorian London, this one a historical mystery, that provides a great view of the attitudes and behaviour of the era. I don't usually bother reading books that have a family tree in the front, let alone two, but I so enjoyed Asta's Book, also by Barbara Vine, that I ignored my usual criteria -- I prefer reading to memorizing confusing detail when enjoying a novel.

I must confess, I skimmed over much of the House of Lords description (zzzzz) and often had to refer back to...more
Paru sous le pseudonyme de Barbara Vine dans sa version originale “The blood doctor”, ce roman de la célèbre reine du crime Ruth Rendell vit sous un autre rythme, un autre ton que les thrillers psychologiques auxquels Ruth Rendell nous offre. La raison de l’existence d’un pseudonyme pour une auteur dont l’écriture a été cataloguée, classée, jugée.

Crime par ascendant raconte l’histoire de Martin Nanther, auteur de biographies, qui écrit la vie de son aïeul, le docteur Henry Nanther, médecin anobl...more
compellingly dull? is that a thing? the premise is somewhat interesting, i guess--a book about a writer trying to decipher his great-grandfather's past interwoven with his wife's desire for a viable pregnancy--but there's no decent payoff. you keep reading hoping something interesting will happen, but it doesn't. it's a bunch of family histories with unmemorable names and failed pregnancies. i only use the word compelling because i did keep reading.. but the writing isn't that particularly remar...more
5/29/14: I've actually changed my rating of this book from ***** to **** - I am almost finished with a re-read and find it to be probably Vine's 'busiest' book, with multiple story-lines and a vast number of characters either present or referred to.

This is one of the Vines that Rendell/Vine readers are often divided on - many, like myself, love it, and others find it tedious going. I was engrossed by it from the get-go, though admittedly I find the historical sections of the book to be the more...more
The topic was certainly interesting and the book makes an attempt to thread the current age with the past, but the pacing is completely off. The book trudges along so slowly that it's hard to maintain an interest. A number of themes are very deliberately and unnecessarily repeated (blood blood blood!), every attractive female apparently resembles the narrator's wife, and a huge number of characters and names make it hard to keep up at times. If you are observant it isn't difficult to figure out...more
I picked up this book because I wanted to read fiction, and this sounded interesting.

In many ways, it is a very surprising book. I hadn't read anything but Vine (or Rendell) before, but after reading this I have. The funny about this book is that the mystery is easily solved by an attentive reader. Anyone can figure it out before the narrator. I know it sounds strange, but that makes the book better. It allows for the characters to drive the plot and allows for the reader to care more about the...more
Really terrific book. It took me a little while to get into b/c the narrator is a biographer doing a lot of family tree research so a lot of names and relationships right off the bat, plus he's in the House of Lords so a lot of parlimentary procedure right off the bat, but once i got into it, i really could not put it down. BV (RR) has a way of sucking you into a story or several stories at the same time and this is her most complex and best yet. Utterly fascinating and compelling. The very endi...more
Vine creates a wonderful story here. Even though I'd guessed the outcome before the ending, it did not detract from the interest of the story. Of particular (and surprising) interest were the details about the House of Lords and the life of the main character as a Lord. Who would've guessed that the author could make the House of Lords intriguing? The author does a superb job of making the tracing of family geneology into an interesting mystery rather than a boring paper trail. Overall, I enjoye...more
Victor J.
This is one of Ruth Rendell's Barbara Vine books. Under her own name, Rendell writes some oftentimes very good mysteries. The Barbara Vine books are meant to be psychological thrillers. I couldn't find much psychology in this one, and certainly nothing thrilling. All in all, I'd have to say it's one of the more monumentally boring books I've ever encountered. I give it one star out of respect for ms. Rendell
Whether she's writing as Barbara Vine or Ruth Rendell, this author of British mysteries is one of my favorites, because her books are intelligent, many-layered, and gripping without being sensationalistic, and also because they are full of perceptive insights into human nature. The main plot about a 19th century physician specializing in hemophilia was fascinating on its own, but along the way I got a good glimpse of the complexities of the British Parliamentary system, especially the House of L...more

This book went on and on and on.... Not the best Barbara vine choice - a mystery of genealogy and family link to hemophilia with a murder thrown in for good measure ... I didn't buy into the characters either . Trying this author? Catch a different title ...most r superior to The Blood Doctor.
Very good, but slow. Rendell is excellent as always. The House of Lords part was very interesting. All in all not my favorite.
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Kirsty Darbyshire

Vine seems to have changed her tune a bit over the years since she parted company with her alter ego Ruth Rendell. I'm not finding her books as spookily creepy these days but they are still very good. In fact I think this is probably my favourite story of hers.

Blood is the overarching theme of this novel in several ways. The narrator Martin Nanther, 4th Lord Nanther is losing his heriditary seat in the House of Lords reforms. He's also writing the biography of his great grandfather Henry, the 1

Jayne Charles
I think Barbara Vine plot twists are getting steadily more guessable as I had this one nailed by the halfway mark. That didn’t stop it being a highly entertaining read, though, as I still had to get to the end to make sure I was right, and the journey was highly enjoyable. The story of a biographer researching his great-grandfather’s life could easily come across as dull, but I loved the feeling of rummaging through old photos and papers, the cold-case element of it, and the complexity of the fa...more
Nancy Oakes
The Blood Doctor is an absolutely fine mystery, but it's not her best work. That distinction goes to (imho) A Dark-Adapted Eye, probably one of the best mysteries ever written and certainly the favorite of my British Mystery collection. I enjoy settling down with a novel by this author and watching all the secrets unfold within its covers. I thought this one was really good, as well, but I kind of figured out the basic secret some time into the book. Luckily while I had the "whys" figured out, I...more
Helen Kitson
This book was not what I was expecting. I associate Ruth Rendell's work under the Barbara Vine name with psychological thrillers, but this book is rather different. It's the story of Martin Nanther, an hereditary peer who is also working on a biography of his ancestor Henry Nanther, who was a doctor specialising in the treatment of haemophiliacs. His peerage was bestowed upon him by Queen Victoria for his work in this field.

There are several main threads to the story - the modern-day story of Ma...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What would you do if you found out that your great-grandfather was a monster? That's the question Martin Nanther is forced to answer as he probes into the life of the 1st Lord Nanther, Henry (physician to Queen Victoria, and expert on hemophilia). All his explorations are set against the House of Lords Act of 1999; fitting, in that Martin's place in the House is due to Henry's service and the Act banning most life peers from sitting somehow fits with Henry's fall from grace.

Vine is quite good at...more
It's been a while since I've read a Rendell/Vine book that I've found satisfying, and though I didn't find it as good as the best of them, it was engrossing enough, dark as all Vines but without all the adumbration that made some other of her books fascinating but rather dense. I do love stories about scholarly detective work and also about families, and this book had all of this so it had plenty to entertain me. I did guess the "terrible secret" halfway into it, though; after reading the blurb...more
Vine’s subject is inheritance. An hereditary peer helps shepherd a Parliamentary Bill that will deprive him, and others like him, of the right to sit in the House of Lords and influence the affairs of state. Coincidentally he is researching the life of the ancestor from whom he inherited this right - a noted Victorian “blood doctor” (a specialist in hemophilia, an inheritable condition) to Queen Victoria’s family. Meanwhile, his second wife is desperate to have a child that he, secretly, doesn’t...more
A truly different and intriguing story of a man's research into the history of his grandfather's long study of hemophilia as a physician of Queen Victoria's. This is combined with his impending release from the House of Lords and his wife's many miscarriages which has created tension in his marriage. He must balance his personal life with the biography he is writing and then in turn, come to terms with the blood disease that has effected his family since the 1700's.
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I would actually give this book 2.5 stars. I admire Ruth Rendell's writing as Barbara Vine very much; however, I thought that the storyline was somewhat disorganized and was lacking in certain aspects. The plot centered on a writer who was researching information about his great-grandfather, a famous doctor of his time. This doctor was made a lord by Queen Victoria for all his work as her personal physician who treated her family for hemophilia. That part of the story was interesting,but at time...more
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What's The Name o...: The House of Lords [s] 14 52 Sep 04, 2014 12:54AM  
  • The Keys to the Street
A.K.A. Ruth Rendell.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication of A Dark Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine in 1986. Books such as King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Anna's Book (original UK title Asta's Book) inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while they further develop themes of family misunderstandings and the side effects of sec...more
More about Barbara Vine...
A Dark-Adapted Eye The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Fatal Inversion Anna's Book The Brimstone Wedding

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