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Blooding, The Paperback – March 1, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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. 250,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wambaugh, best known for his books dealing with American crime and detection, here tells the engrossing story of two British sex murders and the police hunt for the killer. The title stems from a procedure of genetic fingerprinting detected by examining blood samples, and used by the police to catch the murderer. Armed with the new discovery for detection, the police launched a massive drive to "fingerprint" men in the Narborough village area. Wambaugh gives an inside look at the police and their intense and, at last, successful drive to catch the murderer. He also discusses the process, and some of its limitless possibilities. An excellent account of murder, detection, and this amazing scientific discovery. Recommended.
- Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 60334th edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055376330X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553763300
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peter Durward Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This story is set in three neighbouring villages with which I am familiar. The crimes were committed in the eighties, but I only came to know the villages many years later, when I worked in Narborough (the middle of the three villages) from 1998 to 2002. I heard occasional references to these crimes, although never any in-depth conversations. Even now, the topic is too sensitive, so the only way I could find out what really happened was via this book.
Wambaugh gives an excellent account of the crimes and the often futile attempts to solve them. Perhaps occasionally it is more graphic than it needs to be, describing the state of the bodies in intimate detail, but its easy to gloss over that (it is in print, not on film) and there's not too much of that. Some of the main characters, including the policemen and their suspects, are described in great detail. While some may feel that this is just padding, I feel it all helps to make it a good story.
Again, plenty of pages are devoted to false leads, but this may help us to understand why detective work is never as simple as we would like it to be. At one point, after the second murder, the police think they've got their man. The parents can't believe that he would do such a thing and it is at that point that the new science of DNA testing is brought in. The parents are convinced their son in innocent. The police are convinced that he is not only guilty of that murder, but also the earlier one. Did the same man commit both murders and was this particular man guilty? The DNA test results eventually provide answers, but to find out what those answers were, you must read the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read some of the other reviews of this book and found the last 2 to be completely incorrect. This is in fact, not a book for the weak at heart, but it never promises to be. This is very graphic and detailed. So, if you don't like this, don't read this book, but for other true crime fanatics like myself, you will most assuredly love this read. It starts in high gear and stays there throughout. There are no long intros or set-ups, this book hits the ground running and will never leave you thinking that your time could be better spent as some of the other reviews suggest. Sure, if you can't handle the bloodiness and truth of true crime, then go curl up in a corner and read a Harry Potter book!
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Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of the forensic programs on Court TV, and I always check the date of the featured crime (almost always murder and/or rape) to see if it occurred before or after DNA testing became common in the United States. If it occurred after 1992, the perp is usually doomed. Even decades-old cases can be solved if blood/semen/saliva samples were properly stored from the crime scene. According to a prophecy in the weekly "New Scientist," there will soon be kits available that will allow police to process DNA samples in less than two hours.

In "The Blooding," former policeman, Joseph Wambaugh writes about the first serial killer who was caught and convicted through the use of DNA testing: two teenage girls in the English village of Narborough were brutally raped and murdered in 1983 and 1986, and it took four years, a scientific breakthrough, and the blood of 5,000 men to capture the killer, Colin Pitchfork. DNA testing also freed the suspect that police had already jailed for the crime.

On September 10, 1984, at nearby Leicester University, Dr. Alec Jeffreys (now Sir Alec) discovered that each human being (except for identical twins) has a unique genetic profile. At first, his DNA profiling technique was used to sort out immigration cases. Then the Leicestershire constabulary became familiar with DNA 'fingerprinting' and collected blood from over 5,000 men in the ultimately successful search for their murderer.

(By 2004, the UK had a national database of 2.5 million genetic profiles from convicted criminals. Statistics show that 38% of all crimes are detected where DNA has been loaded onto the UK national database, compared with a 24% detection rate overall.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A fifteen year old girl is raped and strangled, her body left along a footpath near an English Village called Narborough. Though a massive effort is launch to find the killer, he remains at large for years. Then the Killer strikes three years after the first murder, killing another young girl in the same brutal fashion, and leaving her body only a short distance from the first. The police do not give up, but this man continually evades detection until several years later Scotland Yard comes a calling with a new tool: DNA. The first time its was used to solve a police case, and to actually track a killer not just to reinforce a case. In a very controversial move, nearly 4000 men in and around the town of Narborough are tested, everyone from teen to old man are 'blooded' meaning their DNA of their blood is tested against the samples of the killer. Never has any police force taken such a massive Orwellian move, compelling every male able to commit the crime to come forward for testing. Even so, the killer continually evades being blooded, but it was a matter of time and dogged police work.
Warbaugh's best work since The Onion Field, may be uncomfortable for some people because of the details of the murders etc, others - believers of the right of individual - will be upset with the Orwellian dragnet, but its a fascinating detailed account that often compels as repels in the same breath.
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