The Blood Detective
Paperback : 07 Aug 2008
Read an extract from: The Blood Detective
...And the killer has left DCI Grant Foster a cryptic clue.
However it’s not until the clue is handed to Nigel Barnes, a specialist in compiling family trees, that the message becomes spine-chillingly clear. It leads Barnes back to 1879 – and the victim of an infamous Victorian serial killer.
When a second body is discovered, Foster needs Barnes’s skills more than ever. The murderer’s clues run along the tangled bloodlines that lie between 1879 and now. And if Barnes is right about his blood-history, the killing spree has only just begun...
Find out more about Dan Waddell and his in interest in genealogy in our Q&A below
What do you think the recent upsurge of people researching their family tree is a result of?
I think there are a few reasons. First and foremost, it's a pretty compulsive hobby. Tracking down names, searching for elusive documents, not knowing what you might find - it's easy to find yourself sucked in. Once you start there is an urge to find out all you can. Secondly, I think as people get older it awakens a sense of wanting to put your life in context. It's usually a profound event that triggers it - a birth or a death. You either wonder, like I did, what exactly it is that you are passing on to your child. Or, in the case of a death, you wonder exactly who the person was who died, how they lived and that sets you wondering about all the others who have gone before you.
Finally, while there are some people who want to do it because they want to complete an ornate family tree to hang on the wall, I think many others are motivated by the skeletons that lay in the family closet. Most family histories have at least one or two cracking stories in them. I think people are secretly a bit disappointed when they find out there's nothing juicy in their family past. There's an undeniable thrill when you find a criminal, an adulterer or some other black sheep in the family. Though maybe that's just me...
Where did you get the idea from to relate it to crime?
It just came to me after a day wading through birth, marriage and death certificates (and after several pints of beer). I'd always wanted to write crime fiction, but was determined to do it only when I had a good enough idea. Like many ideas, it just popped in my head without any effort. I knew almost immediately it would work.
Do you know of any crimes that have been solved through the use of genealogy?
I know of a few 'cold cases' where the police have gone on to genealogical forums and asked for help tracking people down from the past. I'm actually researching this for a talk I'm due to give at a family history convention so I'll get back to you.
What authors do you admire / has anyone inspired your work?
My interest in crime fiction dates back to when I was a kid and first read Emile and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. I just read and re-read it constantly. In my teens I lost the reading bug for a year or two but got it back when I read Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, which remains my favourite novel to this day. As for crime writers, George Pelecanos, Henning Mankell, Joseph Wambaugh, Ross McDonald, Dennis Lehane, Reginald Hill and Mark Billingham are favourites of mine, though writing crime fiction does make reading it a different matter. Rather than soaking it all up and enjoying escaping into another world, you find yourself thinking 'Nice idea', 'Nice twist' or 'Nice character' and running off to make notes of your own.
How / where do you write?
In the spare room in my flat which doubles as an office, with my broadband connection turned off so I don't procrastinate and waste time by browsing music and sport websites.
Have you always wanted to write fiction?
Yes. I was a journalist - I don't think I'm the first news reporter to harbour literary ambitions. I've written a few non-fiction books, which is satisfying but completely different from writing novels. For a start, you're dealing with facts rather than the contents of your head. Novel writing can be painful, slow, agonising work, but I love a challenge and there's nothing more challenging than a blank screen.
Is this the beginning of a series? Where will it go next?
Yes. Hopefully a long running one. I'm in the process of trying to finish the second. It's set six months or so after the first. The character's lives are much changed by the events of the first ones. It involves the United States and strange religious practices. What are you reading now?
The Locked Room by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, a husband and wife Swedish, Marxist crime-writing team that produced a series of ten books in the 1960s and 70s revolving around a detective called Martin Beck. They've just been reissued and are fabulously entertaining, far more so than you would expect from Swedish Marxists. I usually have some non-fiction on the go too, often to do with sport. At the moment it's a book called Murder on the Darts Board by Justin Irwin, a funny tale about a bloke quitting a well-paid job to follow his dream of playing professional darts.
Size : 129 x 198mm
Pages : 416
Published : 07 Aug 2008
Publisher : Penguin
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The Blood Detective
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