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It feels like cheating that Daniel Waddell uses a charming and good looking male protagonist as his lead character. Genealogy never smacks of exciting young men, like Nick Barnes, combing through death notices while simultaneously avoiding being killed. Genealogy is rather left to that frumpish unmarried 60 year old Aunt who has long since mastered the 4-star Sudoku puzzle. But, it is easy to forgive Mr. Waddell in his effort to invigorate a profession that one can not help feel is one step above scrapbooking.

THE BLOOD DETECTIVE succeeds in large part because of its satisfying combination of Police procedural, and historical Crime Novel. I'll admit my weakness to both subsets of the genre. Each here is balanced well, in support of and against the other, to provide a richly detailed work. Mr. Waddell's pace is easy and intuitive. His characters, especially his main creations Nick, Chief Inspector Grant Foster, and Detective Superintendent Heather Jenkins are realistic multidimensional characters. In particular, Nick and Heather have a comfortable repartee that relieves the darker notions of the story. I, for one, found it refreshing to discover a male-female relationship that that did not begin with antagonism masquerading as sexual tension.

As for the historical side of things, THE BLOOD DETECTIVE is wonderfully adventurous in detailing the people and events that exist outside the current story. It could have turned into so much exposition, but Mr. Waddell never always his prose to become complacent. Much of Crime Fiction I have read over the past year or two has been so micro-plotted that the world of these books begins  and end between the covers. Now it maybe an easy to fix to place events in the distance past to open up the book, but it is hard to complain at the results in THE BLOOD DETECTIVE. Mr. Waddell understands one of the basic tent poles of Crime Fiction. The past is not just a time and a place, but a living breathing character that is a marvelously uncaring, unfeeling, and unemotional monster that will consume you whole. I certainly feel... easy for me to say... that Mr. Waddell takes up in the fine tradition of Stephen Booth, Val McDermid, and Mark Billingham. Mr. Waddell's second book, BLOOD ATONEMENT is already out, and you should read him just as soon as you can.


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