Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Blooding

The Blooding by Joseph Wambaugh
William Morrow and Company, Inc; Perigord Press, 1989
hardcover - 288 pages.
nonfiction; true crime
very highly recommended

From Publishers Weekly
In this latest venture into true crime, Wambaugh ( The Onion Field ; Echoes in the Darkness ) triumphs again. Here he turns to Leicestershire, England, and the slayings of two teenagers, Lynda Mann in 1983, and Dawn Ashworth three years later, killings that were eventually solved through scientist Alec Jeffreys's discovery of "genetic fingerprinting." This discovery was made, ironically, at Leicester University, close to the scene of the crimes, and the technique may revolutionize detection. Wambaugh, ever a master of plotting, first leads readers into suspecting the wrong man and then switches to the actual murderer and the taking of thousands of blood samples in one of the more bizarre investigations ever conducted. Genetic fingerprinting was determined to be foolproof, and the real culprit, Colin Pitchfork, was identified without question. As Wambaugh's fans have come to expect, this is an eminently readable and most impressive book. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Michelle Kerns at the Book Examiner
recommended The Blooding in her article 20 best non-fiction books for people who think they hate to read non-fiction I remembered reading it years ago but decided to read it again. In The Blooding, Joseph Wambaugh covers the first serial killer who was caught and convicted through the use of DNA testing. Even though it is nonfiction, The Blooding reads like a good fiction novel. Wambaugh does not spend much time dwelling on the scientific discovery. Instead he skillfully presents the interwoven stories of the victims, their families, the murderer, the scientific discovery of DNA testing, and the policemen who were involved in the hunt for the Narborough Village murderer. Very Highly Recommended.


"They say that in remote little English villages a newcomer can be accepted by the locals provided he buys property, pays his bills, and stays in continuous residence for about ninety-five year." opening sentence

"But there's no debate that it's in a village pub that an outsider can often come closest to monitoring the local pulse. It was in the village pubs that reporters would meet to seek gossip and tittle-tattle during the time of the Narborough Murder Enquiry. And it was in a pub that a casual comment would lead toward the solution of a case destined to become a landmark in the annals of crime detection." pg. 16

"But until November of 1983 there had never even been a murder inquiry in the villages of Narborough, Enderby, and Littlethorpe." pg. 33

"There would always be a "but" with a man like Derek Pearce. Some of the adjectives preceding his name were: immature, talented, abrasive, ruthless, charming, insensitive, generous. But everyone called him complex. A driven perfectionist, he expected everyone to do the job as well as he would." pg. 34-35

"And Dr. Alec Jeffreys knew he was looking at huge numbers of genetic markers that showed both an astonishing level of variability and an amazing degree of individual specificity." pg. 74

"A name for the technology had to be chosen. The bold and logical choice was 'genetic fingerprinting.' " pg. 74-75

"Parents of murdered children quickly learn that all they have for barter and trade is a bit of solace." pg. 138

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