Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

The Woodcutter: A Novel This is a stand-alone novel by the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. It's a psychological thriller about a mysterious, disfigured but mesmerizing man from Cumbria in England. His name is Wilfred Hadda but everyone knows him as Wolf which is much more fitting. Wolves can be vicious killers, but they are also tender toward members of their pack, i.e. the ones they love.

Wolf Hadda is the son of the estate manager at Ulphingstone Castle. His father teaches him to be a woodcutter so that he'll always have a skill to fall back on. Wolf is besotted with Imogen, the daughter of Sir Leon and Lady Kira of Ulphingstone, and she lusts after him as well, but tells him she could never marry him unless he becomes rich, speaks well, and learns proper manners. Of course he goes away, which is a mysterious story in itself, and comes back a finished product to marry the now pregnant Imogen.

Several years later he is suddenly arrested, charged with fraud and pedophilia. The case is solid against him; he doesn't stand a chance. He attempts escape and is hit by a truck. The accident nearly kills him.

That's just the beginning of this intriguing, masterful story. Wolf's character is fascinating, as is Imogen and several other characters, mainly the psychiatrist assigned to him in prison. You learn background gradually throughout the book and I was taken aback many times at a new twist, each time learning something new about Wolf but never quite catching him entirely. There is a shocking, surprising ending and only then did I feel like I understood everything that had happened.

This is a great story, a long one but worth the time and effort. No light beach read, this is a book that makes you think and ponder and just when you think you know what's going to happen, there's another "gotcha." I can't recommend this highly enough. Thanks to Amazon Vine for sending this amazing book to me.


  1. The cover and the title alone make me think the book is a little creepy. This does sound like it has lots of fascinating twists along the way.

  2. I've been meaning to try this author. I love the sound of this one.

  3. Kathy and Diane, This author is really good and though the story is a little creepy, it is so well written that it just keeps you in suspense throughout.