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The Butcher

The Butcher - Jennifer Hillier A Thriller Without the Thrills - 2 Stars

When a book holds itself out to be a thriller, especially one that is to involve a notable serial killer, I expect there to be some suspense. I can tell you right now who the killer in this book was. It wouldn't be a spoiler. Read the first chapter and you will know within two minutes. In fairness to the author, she was being bold and taking a different approach to the often formulaic telling of crime thriller. Sometimes an author steps out the box writes a masterpiece and sometimes the step out and fall of the cliff they couldn't see from inside the box.

Plot summary

You would be best to avoid the plot summary listed on goodreads as it is very misleading. The story opens with the reader learning that a character in the story is a murderer. This is quickly followed by another character also realizing that this character is a murder. We are then introduced to a third character who does not know the truth and we follow that character around until they quite literally stumble onto the truth.

The Good

She Took a Chance

This review should not be construed as knock on author. The writing is above average quality. While most the characters (the killer excluded) tend to be a bit one dimensional, the story is written in clean prose and the story move and a fairly quick pace. In reading the story, I had the distinct impression that the author was trying to do something different. Instead of leaving us guessing as to WHO was the murderer we were meant to keep guessing IF he would get away with it.


Unfortunately it just did not work...

In my opinion, a crime thriller in which the mystery of "whodunit" is removed requires another equally compelling hook. For example, had the story had strong psychological thriller elements and provided a compelling look into the mind of the killer, the fact that murderer was known may not have mattered. As the characters did little to drive the story, I was uninterested in the fact that the story largely focused on the uninformed character and their quest to find the identity of the killer.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the novel anticlimactic. There is a reason that most crime thrillers reveal the killer at the end. The reader expects it. The reader will view this a telling a story at beginning and completing the story at the end. This may have worked as character driven novel, a la [a:Tana French|138825|Tana French|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1277505771p2/138825.jpg] but did not work here. Regardless, I read the novel to the end but was left unimpressed.


Content Advisories

As this was one of about six books I read over a week long vacation, I am bit fuzzy on the content specifics. Please be aware that these are likely to be less accurate than normal.

Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest

Sex - 3.5

The killer was a psychotic criminal who obtained sexual gratification through the act of murder. This theme in and of itself will be disturbing to some readers. That said, it mild to moderately graphic in description and was not pervasive.

Language - 3

To play it safe, I am giving this a three. There low use of mild language and some low use of the f-word. The usage of all adult language was generally low.

Violence - 3.5

There is some description of some historical murders and multiple murder as the novel progressed. The description of the historical murders were moderately to highly graphic. We are informed that a murdered body was dismembered but it is not described. Several murders take place with moderate violence (single blows to the head) some murders are no violent (poisoning).