24 May 2009

The Blood Doctor; Barbara Vine

The Blood Doctor The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

What would you do if you found out that your great-grandfather was a monster? That's the question Martin Nanther is forced to answer as he probes into the life of the 1st Lord Nanther, Henry (physician to Queen Victoria, and expert on hemophilia). All his explorations are set against the House of Lords Act of 1999; fitting, in that Martin's place in the House is due to Henry's service and the Act banning most life peers from sitting somehow fits with Henry's fall from grace.

Vine is quite good at the dark, psychological mystery, looking at the reasons why and not being as crudely graphic as other writers. The "murder" here is so casual, so off-screen that it's almost impossible to believe that one has been committed - or that, in fact, many murders have been committed.

I also like the history she threw in: the Tay Bridge Disaster, the Act of 1999 and what was known in the 1800s about hemophilia all added to the sense that this was a normal world, a normal family, with something terribly wrong in its midst.

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