Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blood Atonement: Review

Who knew that I would get all caught up in a thriller-like police procedural series? And we're only two books in. And I'm already chomping at the bit wanting to know when Dan Waddell is going to give us the next book in the Nigel Barnes/Inspector Grant Foster series.

Waddell's second book,
Blood Atonement, is every bit as gripping as the first--and a little bit more. Here we have Inspector Foster returning to duty after a recovery period that resulted after injuries sustained in the wrap-up of The Blood Detective. He's supposed to be on reduced hours, but is immediately caught up in the murder of a single mother and the disappearance of her 14 year old daughter. Katie Drake was killed inside her house, but then dragged out into the garden where he throat was cut. Was she killed so a pedophile could get hold of her daughter? Was the daughter the culprit? Or was it someone from her past? Except, as Foster discovers as the investigation opens and the team begins interviewing Katie's friends, she didn't have a past. They can't find any relations. No next of kin. And, so, Foster once again turns to Nigel Barnes, expert genealogist, to dig up what he can of the family history.

It's a slow process when you don't have much to go on and as the hours tick away and turn into days, Foster and his colleagues fear that the chances of finding Naomi, Katie's daughter, are fading away as well. But Nigel is good at his job and the trail soon leads them to an off-shoot branch of the Mormon Church. A branch with very odd ideas about about salvation....and atonement. Nigel will go to America to look for final clues in the archives of the Church of Latter Day Saints and Foster will race against time to save Naomi and the few remaining members of her distant family.

Once again, Waddell uses genealogy to great effect. I don't know how long he can maintain a series of mystery that rely on present day mysteries with ties to the past--but I hope it's a good, long while. Nigel is an engaging character and his researches are worked seamlessly into the plot. As I mentioned in my review for The Blood Detective, I read other mysteries that attempted to use genealogy as a hook and they just didn't work well. I felt like the author was just plopping the information in there and it didn't fit into the story like it should. Waddell has no such problem.

And I find the Mormon history tidbits that are crucial to the story extremely interesting. Would someone really go that far and become that obsessed? Well, quite possibly. There's a lot of weirdness out there. And Waddell makes this particular brand of weirdness quite believable. A full fours stars.

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