The Blood Detective
Release Date: 28/02/2017
Nominated for the CWA New Blood Dagger in the UK and Macavity First Book award in the USA, and winner of the Prix Cezam Littéraire.
As dawn breaks over London, the body of a young man is discovered in a Notting Hill churchyard. The killer has left DCI Grant Foster and his team a grisly, cryptic clue. 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. It leads Barnes back more than one hundred years – to the victim of a demented Victorian serial killer. When a second body is discovered Foster needs Barnes’s skills more than ever. The murderer’s clues appear to run along the tangled bloodlines that lie between 1879 and now. And if Barnes is right, the killing spree has only just begun . . .
The Blood Detective is a haunting crime novel of blood-stained family histories and gruesome secrets.
‘Expertly plotted and with great attention to detail, this is the start of a series that has already put down substantial roots of its own’ – Mark Billingham.
‘A fascinating and original investigation into the dark roots of our family trees’ – Val McDermid
‘There’s panache aplenty in this intriguing tale. Sharp plotting, elegant writing, engaging characters, a cracking climax. A series is promised. Bring it on!’ Reginald Hill
The plot of The Blood Detective came to me quickly, once I had developed the premise. The main characters had also slotted neatly into place. Nigel, the eager genealogist who escapes into the past because he finds the present too jarring; Grant Foster, the detective who lives in the present because the past is too painful.
Yet I had nowhere to set it. Nearly all the crime novels I love have a sense of place; almost like another character. Think of Rebus’ Edinburgh, Marlowe’s Los Angeles, Philip Kerr’s Nazi Berlin. I knew I wanted London as a backdrop, but which part?
At the time I was living in North Kensington, on the outskirts of Notting Hill, then teeming with tourists expecting to see a floppy-haired Englishman like Hugh Grant around every corner. I knew and had witnessed a far seedier, edgier side to the area; its history was one of abject poverty, slum housing, and racial tension. The chocolate box image projected by the movie contrasted with the reality I knew, but still, I never thought of setting a book there.
That was until inspiration struck in the unlikeliest of places. A few things have happened to me in the back of black London cab, not all pleasant, but solving the final puzzle of a novel was a first.
I was riding back from Shepherd’s Bush through Notting Dale, the grubby, snot-nosed brother to the Hill’s sleek young man. As we approached the area where I lived, the driver pointed out a small street beside the railway arches, filled with a row of identikit 1970s houses.
‘You know what that used to be?’ the cabbie asked
Any Londoner knows that getting in a discussion with a black cab driver is unwise, unless you’re clinically insane or a purveyor of far right wing politics. So I feigned disinterest. But as any Londoner will tell you, disinterest does nothing to deter a chatty cabbie. Only outright disdain will do.
‘It was Rillington Place,’ he added.
Now I was interested. Rillington Place – the scene of the Christie murders, for which another man was originally wrongfully hanged. The case was turned into a film, with Richard Attenborough playing the murderer, the mild-mannered murderer next door and a recent TV recreation with Tim Roth as a far more sinister John Christie.
After he dropped me off, I went to back to Rillington Place and walked along it, counting the houses.
I stopped. There was no number ten.
The street name had been changed. It’s layout altered. The houses had been demolished and replaced. Yet they still couldn’t bring themselves to build a number ten. Instead, between numbers nine and 11, there was a narrow gap, filled only by a tree.
I had my setting. A theme, too. That no matter how hard we try, the past cannot be swept away. Places still bear the effect of what has gone on before, even if that imprint exists only in people’s minds.
ABOUT DAN WADDELL
Dan Waddell is the award-winning author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, among them the bestselling book which accompanied the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? His first crime novel, the critically-acclaimed The Blood Detective, won the prestigious Prix Cezam Littéraire in France and was nominated for debut awards in the UK and USA. He lives in London with his family.
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/646165.Dan_Waddell