by Jennifer Hillier
Cover Artist: Dwight Eschliman / Getty Images
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Pocket Books Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476734231
Date: 24 February 2015 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The Butcher is a ride on a suspense roller coaster right from the beginning. The story opens with retired Seattle Police Chief Edward Schank about to move out of his house and into a retirement community. He is looking at his piano, which is the only item left in the house. He thinks back to the police case that made him a celebrity. Then Detective Shank was in charge of the task force that caught the serial killer nicknamed, The Beacon Hill Butcher. The Butcher had murdered numerous young women and chopped off each one’s left hand to keep as a trophy. As the chief looks at the piano, he notices a dent in the upper corner, and then he remembers how he smashed his wife's head on the piano and killed her! The author builds him up as a crime-fighting hero, and then tears him down quickly to start the roller coaster down the first hill.
Chief Schank gives the house to his grandson Matt. Matt is a local celebrity too, as the owner and head chef of a trendy new Seattle restaurant. Matt was orphaned when he was very young and was raised by his grandparents, so he and the Chief are very close. Shortly after moving in to the house, Matt is having a deck installed in the back yard, and the contractor digs up a large plastic crate. Matt is curious, opens the box, and finds many left hands preserved in formaldehyde. Chief Shank is the Beacon Hill Butcher and all of the fame is a lie! So begins the second big drop of the coaster.
Despite these two surprises right at the beginning, The Butcher continues with suspense. Matt's girl friend is an author of books about serial killers and is developing one on the Beacon Hill Butcher. She often consults with Chief Shank about her research, since he is so familiar with the case. The reader knows the truth, but the characters in the book, other than Matt and the Chief, do not. Several other events ensue, including the chief starting to kill again after stopping for a long time after he claimed to catch the butcher. The body count is high, but that is reasonable when the book is entitled The Butcher. The suspense is great and the roller coaster glides to a nice stop at the end and all of the plotlines close neatly.
I can picture this book as a movie easily. The plot is huge on suspense, and all the right music in the right places will add to all the surprises. The Chief makes a great character too. He is everybody's hero, except he carries a dark secret.
I recommend The Butcher. It is a quick and easy read. I won't call the story "light" or "cozy" because of all the killing, but the plot is relatively simple and linear. The Butcher is a great page-turning thriller.