The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

The ButcherThe Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

From the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Creep and Freak and whom Jeffery Deaver has praised as a “top of the line thriller writer,” The Butcher is a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

A thriller with taut, fast-paced suspense, and twists around every corner, The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is like a bad habit–but in a good way.

Things I love about this book:

The pace was right. The story revolved around a few different central main characters. Each person was interesting in their own right. If you love hating a character, the main villain here will please and delight you. I hated him so much that I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and do away with him myself.

The story of Matt and Samantha and their dual dealings with one another and Edward was well imagined and fulfilled. The trials they faced in their relationship and the ultimate way it went, kept me interested in another aspect of the story rather than that of just the serial killings.

A lot of unexpected things happen in this novel and just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes and so does the reader’s perspective. I liked never knowing quite what was coming next. I will warn other readers that if they are squeamish or if they are offended by harsh language, this may not be the book for them. If these things do not bother you, then I definitely recommend you check out this book.

This is a complex story that will not only keep you guessing, but nearing the end of the book, make you feel conflicted on how you want it to end. On the one hand (no pun intended there, author) you will want to see a certain character get what he deserves, but hope it isn’t as he wants it. On the other hand, you must make a choice between wanting justice for an innocent person who died terribly, or the salvation of a character that did his best to redeem himself before the end of the story.

The stuff that bugged me:

I took relatively few issues with this book, but there were a couple of things that bothered me. By the last few chapters one could plainly see where the book was going to end and how, and it did. I almost didn’t need to read the ending to figure it out. The author lined up all of her events and characters and did the big surprises all in a row toward the end, so there was no wowing finish factor to be had.

Lilac conveniently disappeared when she was no longer needed.

Finally, and perhaps this is just my perspective, but the serial killer didn’t act all that much like a serial killer, but more of a crazed lunatic with psychopathic tendencies. His MO seemed to change from having a signature or calling card if you will (not the obvious one) to just randomly getting a thrill from killing without a pattern. If he was smart enough to evade capture for more than three decades, I find it difficult to believe that he would suddenly become non-specific about who he killed and how, or even consider doing things in such silly, easily tracked ways toward the end.

This was a man who was plainly a narcissist. He was a bully and so self assured that he could do whatever he wanted without being caught that I could see him taking risks but the back story and the reason he chose the type of victims he picked didn’t fit in keeping with his later actions.

The Police would have had to be completely ignorant if they couldn’t put two and two together on what was happening at the retirement home.

Still, this was an entertaining, fast-paced read with a lot to make me love it and feel good about recommending it. The story was creative and original. If you like getting thrills and chills, try this one out.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

8 thoughts on “The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier”

  1. Interesting mention of a villain that you want to throttle. I’ve been wondering for months about the use of villains who are loathed by the readers. There seems to be a big push for ‘lovable’ villains who can be redeemed, so I’m always interested to hear about a truly evil one.


  2. A great review. It is always disappointing when there are areas that lack consistency and continuity such as an uncharacteristic change in the behaviour of a character. Sounds like a good enjoyable read though.


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