Thursday, September 27, 2012

Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes

I discovered Jonathan Hayes and his debut novel, Precious Blood, through this year's ThrillerFest.  ThrillerFest is a conference organized and largely taught by International Thriller Writers - a generous,  unpretentious group.  For those of us who love to read thrillers and aspire to write, it's one of the most amazing experiences.  You get to learn from, speak to, interact with some of your favorite authors.  There's Craftfest,  which is dedicated to developing your craft of writing.  This is followed by AgentFest - a sort of speed dating event for unrepresented writers and literary agents to meet.  Every year you hear of success stories from AgentFest.  Finally, ThrillerFest proper which has several seminars and talks going at the same time. Each covering different aspects of the thriller genre.  It's amazing to be among these authors and to find them accessible and participating in the experience.  ThrillerFest 2013 is scheduled for July 10-13 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York.  Early Bird registration has begun at

Jonathan Hayes' Precious Blood touches on NYC during the time of 9/11.  The hero is NYC medical examiner Edward Jenner who worked throughout the horrifying days after 9/11.  The aftermath left Jenner emotionally scarred and he'd left the field of pathology.  But when one of his closest friends calls for his help, Jenner is forced back to help in the forensic investigation of the brutal mutilation of a young woman.

The victim is found naked and nailed to the wall.  Jenner is certain that there is a serial killer prowling NYC.  Jenner has taken it upon himself to help  his friend's niece, the victim's roommate and a witness to the crime.  The young woman's stay brings about all sorts of complications for Jenner - in his personal life and professional - and draws the attention of the dangerous and unstable killer.

While I enjoy a certain amount of violence and action in my thrillers, my threshold for gore is quite low.  As far as graphic violence goes, Precious Blood is quite explicit.  That was something that kept me from fully enjoying the novel. On the other hand, the plot is complex and the lead characters are well fleshed out. If you enjoy the grittier, violent, thrillers, then Precious Blood will give deliver both in excitement and thrills.  It has the added bonus of giving us an inside view of what NYC was like during the frantic days after 9/11 from the point of view of someone who truly lived it.

About the Author:
Jonathan Hayes, a veteran forensic pathologist, has worked in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, performing autopsies and testifying in murder trials since 1990.  Born in Bristol, England, he attended medical school at the University of London before moving to the United States to train pathology at the Boston University Medical Center and in forensics at the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office in Miami. Since 1993, he has held a teaching appointment at the New York University School of Medicine. He lectures nationally on forensic science. Hayes is also a former contributor at Martha Stewart Living and writes regularly for the New York Times, New York, GQ,  Gourmet, and Food & Wine. He lives in New York City.  Precious Blood is his first novel.

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