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Summary

The First Lord Nanther, expert in blood diseases, particularly the royal disease of Heamophilia, and favoured physician to Queen Victoria, clearly hoped to be the subject of an admiring posthumous biography. But when his great-grandson, Martin Nanther begins to research his life for a biography, the Martin comes to suspect that his great-grandfather’s old records conceal more than they reveal. Henry had been obsessed with blood, to him, blood was a thing of beauty and he could not fathom how anyone could flinch or faint at the sight of it. As Martin’s research deepens, he begins to wonder whether the mysterious deaths of a number of friends and relatives of his great-grandfather really were mere coincidence or did Henry’s fascination with blood have a much darker side?

©2002 Kingsmarkham Enterprises Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Blood Doctor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Complex and Convincing

This is among the best of the Barbara Vine books. The narrator, while researching the life of his great grandfather slowly uncovers tragedy. At the same time he can hardly control the way his own life is being swept along. The depth and detail of research, the interlinking themes, the convincing characters, their psychology and behaviours, the final resolutions make this a top quality work and a complete joy to have unabridged on audio book.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Poor Bloody Henry!

This is a book that will live with me for a very long time. After a hesitant beginning, when I was tempted to abandon it, it pulled itself out of its mire and got going. I have to admit that was mainly due to the reading by Robert Powell; he could come and read the dictionary to me if he felt so inclined. I also have to admit my admiration for Barbara Vine, Aka Ruth Rendell. I simply cannot understand how she managed to keep that little lot going. A star.
I could have done without the history of the House of Lords but, hey, all knowledge has a use.
Previously, I knew very little about haemophilia, other than the fact that in the Victorian era it was rife. I know a lot more now.
The way Lord Martin Nanther plods his way through his family history is breathtaking, then to discover that there were unanswered questions and to be defeated at every turn was at times, almost crippling.
The final denouement was almost heartbreaking.
I listen to my books while walking my dog on our local park and this morning when I reached the end, I must be honest here, I very nearly wept.
Without doubt, the best Barbara Vine I have read/listened to yet. I just loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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Good reading of a middling Vine

Not top-notch Barbara Vine, but Robert Powell's reading brings out its best. You may be quite tired of House of Lords reform by the end (I was), and I would have preferred more of the history and less of the present day, but it's an interesting idea reasonably well carried out. Robert Powell is an excellent reader and I will certainly try another book read by him.

1 person found this helpful

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A Triumph

Within no time at all I was convinced this was a biography, a true story. I even checked all the names. Robert Powell is an amazing raconteur. The story of Henry is so absorbing but at yet same time running in the background is the Lords’ Bill and it’s tempestuous passage. I couldn’t believe that I, who till now was a great supporter of reform, was suddenly wanting Martin to keep his seat in the Other Place. A tour de force.

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Completely Unexpected.

Very cleverly done, completely unexpected. I know enough about the name Barbara Vine to recognise it as well known, and I vaguely recalled that it was an assumed name, but that was it. I wasn't expecting to be impressed, but I was. Very well read and put over by Robert Powell.

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Dull dull dull

The only mystery is why this ever got published; interminable repetitive self indulgence, most unlike the rest of her work. Robert Powell reads well though.

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Loved it

Robert Powell was perfect as the narrator and I got quite lost inside the story as it unfolded. Brilliant.

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Excellent

A bit hard to follow in places because I'm not very good at remembering names and there are a LOT in this book but a really entertaining and absorbing listen nonetheless. Well narrated.

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Hard going

While it was not a typical Barbara Vine overall the topics were interesting. It was hard going but I did want to understand the end. It was ok but quite dry compared to others which I have really enjoyed.

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    2 out of 5 stars

The Blood Dr.

I wasn't rivited by this book.Too long and drawn out with little happening.I love Barbara Vine but this one doesn't feel like one of hers.I dont recommend it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • connie
  • 09-07-11

clever, excellent storytelling

I didn't know what to expect from Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine (except good writing) and feared that this was some kind of gothic horror - but it is an absorbing character-driven story, with a mystery element very secondary. In fact, it's more of a puzzle than a mystery, pieced together in the course of the slowly moving narrative, with storylines nesting inside one another like Russian dolls.

Its tone reminded me a bit of French Lieutenant's Woman: Though not set in Victorian England, it evokes and reflects on that period in a similar way as the main character undertakes a biography of an ancestor. The story of writing the Victorian biography is so convincing that at times I forgot I was listening to fiction.

As another reviewer pointed out, there are serious editing glitches at around hour 5 and 5:45 of part 1 - annoying, but they don't ruin the listen. This is a slow listen - but that can be good - in fact, to me it's the best novel I've heard this past year (out of approximately 30-40).

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Margot
  • 19-10-10

I love the way her mind works

This is one of my favorite Barbara Vine novels, the other being THE MINOTAUR. This is a very good reader, which makes it a good story well-told in every way.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Veronica
  • 19-02-21

Absolutely mesmerizing!

one of the Best Mystery novels I've ever heard! intriguing, complicated, intuitive and so well researched. Brings a not so much discussed part of Victorian history to light.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jane E. Applebee
  • 15-04-20

So so so so so mind numbingly boring

I've read a lot of Barbara Vine and I love her writing, so I was excited to start this novel. It goes on forever and nothing really ever happens. I don't understand what happened here, but if you are expecting an interesting psychological thriller, avoid this title at all costs. Nothing to see here. Hemophilia, the subject of the main characters agonizingly obsessive study, gets the blood drained out of it. The narrator is perfect for this piece of emotional vampiry, droning on and on as if everything he has to say is dead interesting. Seriously dull.

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  • Sarah P.
  • 11-07-15

Central conceit doesn't work

What did you like best about The Blood Doctor? What did you like least?

Because the story is told by a British lord, this doesn't have the strangeness of other Barbara Vine novels. Any delicious weirdness of character, which I so enjoy in other novels Ruth Rendell writes as B.V, is not conveyed by the narrow perspective of the proper upper-class narrator. The biggest disappointment for me, though, was that the motive of the great doctor who is the narrator's ancestor, a motive easily guessed at towards the end and eventually spelled out, is not convincing. And, as another reviewer says, the subplot about the lord's trophy wife's efforts to have a baby soon becomes tiresome. It's meant to, I guess.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The motive of the central figure in the family saga is not fully explained.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Sure.

Any additional comments?

If you're not a fan of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford, try the altogether different genre of her alter ego Barbara Vine's books. Creepy people hold big secrets for convoluted reasons.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sally J. Thomas
  • 13-12-10

Annoyance

Chapter 10 contains a repeat of several pages. Editing needed here. Story moves slowly enough without the repetition.

2 people found this helpful