Blood Detective - Murder by Family Tree

Chiswick author Dan Waddell’s different take on genealogy


Dan Waddell


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The popularity of family history is soaring and the number of people tracing their own family trees is at an all time high. So a new concept within the crime fiction genre, murder solved by genealogy is very much of the moment. Hence the acclaim that Chiswick author Dan Waddell has received for his novel Blood Detective.

Son of the cult Geordie television darts commentator Sid Waddell, Dan led a ‘schizophrenic’ life freelancing for several national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, The People and The Daily Star.

In 2003 his son Dougie was born. His birth meant the name Waddell would continue for at least another generation. Dan took great satisfaction in this and then found himself wondering why.

He started, for the first time, to think about his family’s past and his ancestors who had passed this name down the generations. He began researching his family tree and within a few hours uncovered a family secret that had lain undisturbed for decades. As an (almost) reformed tabloid journalist, the whiff of scandal whetted his appetite.

He realised that genealogy was not simply a painstaking trawl though dusty, fusty files - it is a quest that can lead to the most astonishing revelations, not least the fact that our ancestors were human beings as flawed as we were. He was asked to write the book that accompanied the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are?, which became a bestseller. He also wrote the book that accompanied the second series.

During this time he had the idea that eventually became The Blood Detective: how dark secrets from the past can come back to haunt the present.

“My wife died of breast cancer while I was writing the book and I moved to Chiswick shortly after in quite a state of flux and turmoil,” Dan told, “the best thing I can say about Chiswick is that it quickly felt like home.”

“I like the buzz on the High Road and all the eating options, as my waistline attests.”

About The Blood Detective

As dawn breaks over a frosty London, the body of a young man is discovered in a Notting Hill churchyard, a cryptic clue carved into his skin.

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…

When a second body is discovered DCI 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 about his blood-history, the killing has only just begun…

September 26, 2008