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Precious Blood

Precious Blood

4.5 10
by Jonathan Hayes

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The nightmare of 9/11 left New York City medical examiner Edward Jenner shattered and emotionally scarred. He thought he'd turned away from forensics—and life—for good, but the mutilation murder of a college student is pulling him back. The body of a young woman, nailed to the wall of her East Village apartment, has Jenner convinced that there's a


The nightmare of 9/11 left New York City medical examiner Edward Jenner shattered and emotionally scarred. He thought he'd turned away from forensics—and life—for good, but the mutilation murder of a college student is pulling him back. The body of a young woman, nailed to the wall of her East Village apartment, has Jenner convinced that there's a serial killer prowling the city—and a second horrific murder only confirms his most terrible fears. The desperate hunt for a psychopath—and Jenner's troubling obsession with a beautiful, frightened woman who could be the maniac's next victim—is pushing the forensic expert to the limits of his physical and mental endurance.

But as the shadows deepen it gets harder to tell who is the hunter and who is the prey. And which one will live . . . and who will die.

Editorial Reviews

Linda Fairstein
“An intelligent thriller that takes you down the meanest streets . . . This reader was scared to death.”
Kathy Reichs
“Taut and chilling… a fast-paced thriller written by a real player in the game of forensic sleuthing.”
USA Today
“Even hard-core lovers of the thriller genre may find parts of PRECIOUS BLOOD as shocking as the goriest contemporary slasher films.”
Romantic Times
“An impressive debut . . . The murders are grisly and striking, and Jenner is a likable lead.”
Publishers Weekly

New York City medical examiner Hayes provides plenty of authentic forensic atmosphere in his grisly debut. But his tale of a maniacal serial killer loose on the streets of Manhattan dwells too much on the carnage with insufficient focus on his protagonist's emotional state. Dr. Edward Jenner, an occasional private consultant who resigned from his post as a New York City forensic pathologist after the trauma of 9/11, is positive the gruesome crucifixion murder of a young college student is the handiwork of a burgeoning serial killer. When Ana de Jong, the murdered girl's roommate, appears in his loft, desperate for help, Jenner is plunged deep into a world of cruelty and death, a world he tried so desperately to leave behind. As more bodies pile up and the killer's methods become increasingly sadistic, Jenner races to identify the ancient text engraved in the victims' flesh, hoping it will lead him to the truth behind the murders. The somewhat creepy relationship that develops between Jenner and Ana distracts, while fans familiar with the conventions of the serial killer genre will find much of the action predictable. Hopefully, Hayes will combine his impressive forensics knowledge with a fresher plot and deeper characterization in his next thriller. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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6.80(w) x 4.14(h) x 1.26(d)

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Precious Blood

By Jonathan Hayes

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Jonathan Hayes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060736668

Chapter One

Sunday, December 1

Steve Whittaker, MD, deputy chief medical examiner for the City of New York, finished his crime scene notes and signed his name with a flourish. Pushing back from his desk, he saw that the mosaic of diplomas that covered his office wall was out of kilter. He stood, frowning. Harry must have knocked his med school diploma, the largest of them, as he was emptying the bins. Squinting, arm stretched, Whittaker tipped the frame until it was even, the Harvard University neatly aligned with the Johns Hopkins on his pathology diploma. On the lower row, his New York license, the testimonial from his forensic fellowship, and his board qualifications were more modestly framed, but one glance at the wall was enough for anyone to see they were dealing with a world-class forensic pathologist.

He hadn't earned his position by good academic credentials alone: Whittaker was a political animal, and proud of it. He'd risen to the top of both national forensic pathology associations, been treasurer of the National Association of Medical Examiners, and run the Path-Bio section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. It was widely thought he'd be AAFS president within the next couple of years.

At meetings, after any cocktailparty or plenary session, he'd slip back to his hotel room and write down anything useful he'd gleaned. Not about residue patterns for new gunpowders or techniques for developing friction ridge imprints from well-preserved bodies, but rather the little details that could lubricate his further ascent: whose drinking problem had taken a turn for the worse, whose wife had just been diagnosed with leukemia. He saw his talent for recognizing and exploiting the weaknesses of others as a necessary evil, a Darwinian trait that let him prosper as weaker men failed. He knew that it irked people; it still stung that when Julie left him, she'd sent him Machiavelli's Prince. It was a petty gesture, and betrayed her lack of understanding of how life was played, a fact underscored by her having left him for Jenner.

The thought of Jenner irritated him, and he was still scowling when the phone rang. District Attorney Klein. It was their second conversation in less than three hours, and Whittaker tried to strike a tone somewhere between professional and collegial. He started to detail his observations from the scene, but Klein cut him off, wanting only the gist—typical Klein.

Whittaker reluctantly summarized his findings, smoothly assuring Klein that he would conduct the autopsy personally.

"Actually, you won't be performing the autopsy yourself: you'll have company. Girl's father has hired some local forensic pathologist, guy named Jennings. I tell you, Whittier, I'm sick of every asshole with a law degree calling in favors and making demands. I feel sorry for the guy, really I do, but would it have killed him to call at a decent hour?"

Whittaker pressed the phone against his ear, struggling for words. "Jennings? Do you mean Jenner, Mr. Klein? Dr. Edward Jenner?"

"Jennings, Jenner, something like that. Is he any good?"

"He was formerly with this office. I fired him last year."

"Jesus. Incompetence?"

Whittaker was silent for a second. "He's not so much incompetent as . . .

emotionally ill-equipped for the work. The post–9/11 recovery work was a bit too much for him."

Klein snorted. "Then you're probably better off without him. Either way, he's their pathologist, he's probably at the scene right now, and he'll be joining you for the autopsy. Give him any help he needs, and leave me the hell out of it. Understood, Whittier?"

Whittaker felt it best not to correct him. "Understood, sir."

They had found her in the East Village, nailed to the wall of a railroad flat in a town house on Tompkins Square Park.

Jenner waited on a bench in the park, a six-block expanse of grass, trees, walkways, and basketball courts. Despite the cold, a few Brazilians were kicking a soccer ball around on the paved area in front of him.

The park was much better kept than it used to be. Although his loft was barely fifteen minutes' walk away, he hadn't been here in ages, and he was surprised by how polished the neighborhood had become since he'd been out of circulation. Back when he'd first started at the medical examiner's office, another murder in the Ninth Precinct would have raised few eyebrows, but everything was changing so quickly.

The punks and neo-hippies had been shoehorned out of their squats, replaced by a cheery wave of young families, students, models, and trendy Japanese kids who, like everyone else in the East Village, had escaped to New York to reinvent themselves. The punks and neo-hippies now panhandled sullenly on the edges of the park, usually with a bandanna'd half-pit-bull puppy at their feet to amp up compassion. Occasionally a grimy anarchist, unable to accept that his territory had long since been overrun by McLaren strollers and yoga mats, would provoke a "confrontation" with a patrol cop, and a mini-demonstration would erupt among the street kids, only to fall casualty to sunshine, talls of St. Ides malt liquor, and general ambivalence.

Across the street, a young officer, beefy in Kevlar vest and winter coat, stood by the yellow crime scene tape in front of the town house, talking with a woman holding a laundry bag. Lieutenant Rad Garcia of the Manhattan South Homicide squad stuck his head out of the front door, spoke to the officer, then motioned Jenner over.

Jenner stood and stretched stiffly. The ball bounced toward him; he trapped it neatly, then kicked it to one of the Brazilians—rudimentary soccer skills, one of the vestiges of a junior year at the University of London. He crossed Seventh to the town house. The officer nodded at him, lifting the tape to let him in.

Three seventy-seven East Seventh Street was one of the nicer buildings, a two-family brick town house with blue window boxes and a low front wall separating the small concrete front yard from the sidewalk.


Excerpted from Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes Copyright © 2007 by Jonathan Hayes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Linda Fairstein
“An intelligent thriller that takes you down the meanest streets . . . This reader was scared to death.”
Kathy Reichs
“Taut and chilling… a fast-paced thriller written by a real player in the game of forensic sleuthing.”

Meet the Author

Jonathan Hayes, a veteran forensic pathologist, has been a New York City medical examiner, performing autopsies and testifying in murder trials, since 1990. A former contributing editor at Martha Stewart Living, Hayes has written for the New York Times, New York magazine, GQ, and Food & Wine. He is also the author of Precious Blood.

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Precious Blood 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was quite impressed with this debut novel, and look forward to more from this author. His look into the mind of the killer was uncanny...and spooky! I only had one slight problem with the writing-- there were TOO many sentences with semicolons. I'd prefer to see fewer of these, and see the sentences broken up into two shorter sentences occasionally. I only mention it because it became distracting after a while. Other than that, the book was excellent, and I'd buy the next novel written by Mr. Hayes.
KLeJeuneLA More than 1 year ago
Precious Blood had my attention from the cover. I found the book from friends on Facebook. Could not put it down, characters were so real you could almost see their faces. Serial Killer had new ways of torture I have never read before. Jonathan's background on death gives his book that realistic feel. You keep checking the newspaper to see if this serial killer is real!! Can't wait to see more of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was glued to the book from page one to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first quarter of the book was good but then it slowed down for me & it was a struggle to finish it. I was expecting a better book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Following the 9/11 tragedy, Manhattan forensic pathologist Dr. Edward Jenner retires from the medical examiner¿s office unable to cope after having witnessed for weeks afterward the results of the calamity. Edward conducts occasional consulting work.------------ The uncle of East Village resident Ana de Jong pleads with his close friend Edward to help her for she fears for her life. As she explains to him someone brutally murdered her roommate Andrea nailing the Hutchins College law student to a crucifix. Reluctantly Edward takes on the case even while he fears that a ritual serial killer is surfacing and that he mentally may not be able to deal with the horrific deaths that he expects to see. Still more for Ana¿s sake than his morbid curiosity, he digs deeper into the investigation and realizes the killings follow a pattern with each new ritual homicide crueler than the previous ones occur.-------------- Fans of serial killer investigations that emphasize forensic science will appreciate Jonathan Hayes¿ fine entry as the whodunit inquiries dominate the tale. Jenner is a fabulous protagonist as he suffers from post traumatic fatigue syndrome caused by the 9/11 nightmare however Mr. Hayes fails to dig deep into the demons eating at his soul. Still PRECIOUS BLOOD is a fine mystery that sub-genre readers will welcome.------------- Harriet Klausner
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