The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier


The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

A Thriller Without the Thrills – 2 Stars

When a book holds itself out to be a thriller, especially one that involves 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, I believe she was trying to be bold and take a different approach to the often formulaic telling of crime thriller. Sometimes an author steps out of the box and writes a masterpiece and sometimes they step out and fall off the cliff they couldn’t see from inside the box.

Plot summary

You would be best to avoid the plot summary listed on Goodreads or elsewhere as it is very misleading. The summary will talk about mystery and suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end of the story. The reality is more mundane. The story opens with the reader learning that a character in the story is a serial killer. This is quickly followed by another character realizing that the first character is a murderer. 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 and while most of the characters tend to be a bit one dimensional, the story is written in clean prose with a brisk 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 was anticlimactic. There is a reason that most crime thrillers reveal the killer at or near the end. The reader expects it. This may have worked as a character driven novel, a la Tana French, but it did not work here. 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 3.5

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 murders as the novel progresses. 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)and some murders are not violent (poisoning).

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.