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The Woodcutter: A Novel

A book by Reginald Hill

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I really liked this book - a lot!

  • Jun 22, 2011
Reginald Hill, the best-selling author of the Superintendant Danziel and DCI Pascoe books and TV series, has hit a new high, a mountain top high, with this splendid, engaging, tension and event-filled novel. This is the kind of book that reviewers want to be especially careful not to disclose too much, so as not to destroy the enjoyment of revelation after revelation and adventure after adventure that Hill divulges just at the right time and in just the right way, sometimes with teasing and emotional depth. The publishers say that this is a "psychological thriller about a mysterious ex-con looking for vengeance in his hometown." It is much more than that.

Rich, brilliant, respectable, well-liked, and seemingly well-married Sir Wilfred Hadda, known as Wolf and as The Woodcutter, is suddenly and unexpectedly arrested for pornography and fraud. He protests his innocence, but no one, including his wife and friends, or so it seems, believes him. He is found guilty and thrown into prison where he meets a lovely prison psychiatrist and makes a breakthrough, or so it seems. Wolf, like the characters in ancient Greek tales, seems perfect, but has a fatal flaw, a quick temper.

His past is mysterious. He was born to a low class family. While a young teen-ager, he aspires to marry pretty, very rich, aloof Imogen, who takes the initiative and drops her clothes and beds him frequently. She refuses his marriage offer because of his low social class but, as in ancient fables, she gives him three tasks, which if he fulfills, she will accept him. He leaves home and is gone for five years. What occurs during the five years to this boy with raw power and determination is a well-kept secret in the book for a long while. There were some killings during these years, or so it seems. When he returns, highly educated, handsome, and fantastically rich, she….

Later, after he is arrested, and after spending seven years in prison, far less than expected, he seeks revenge. Or does he? What is he doing and why? Who are his enemies and why?

Readers will relate to Wolf, the woodcutter, the man who carries an ax, because he is so personable. "Yes," says one of the book's characters to another one, "and he may have lost…but it's still there, isn't it? Don't be ashamed of admitting it, dearie. Impossible not to like him, right? Well, imagine what he was like way back, a young lad adrift and in danger on the streets of wicked old London…." Yes, imagine Wolf's past, present, and future revealed with suspense and grace by a master writer.
I really liked this book - a lot! I really liked this book - a lot! I really liked this book - a lot!

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Israel Drazin ()
Ranked #66
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of twenty books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four … more
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“Sly, enchanting…[with] strong characters that complement the fast-paced, unpredictable plot.” (Publishers Weekly )

“He’s lost none of his sardonic wit, punch and complexity… The result is an epic, unbeatable mystery.” (Financial Times )

“Reginald Hill’s books are as good as crime fiction gets and this one is as good as he gets.” (Literary Review )

“An outstanding novel of force and beauty.” (The Times (London) )

“His storytelling is always bewitching, his turns of phrase wonderful. . . . The Woodcutter is as much literary as crime novel, but always a page turner.” (Keighley News (England) )

“There is something of the fairytale about The Woodcutter, a big, fat mystery which has the enduring power of a myth. . . . The heights of the Dalziel & Pascoe series aside, Hill has never written a better book.” (The Evening Standard (London) )

“Hill’s plotting…is brilliant, the jokes first-rate, the prose supple: it’s his humble awe at the power of the English language that enables him to be a minor master of it.” (Daily Telegraph (London) )

“A consummate yarn spinner, Hill draws on myth and metaphor to embroider this tightly crafted tale.” (The Age (Melbourne) )

“Another gem from the creator of Dalziel and Pascoe. Rich characterisation, sparkling dialogue and wry humour flavour the text. . . . Verdict: exquisite” (Herald ...
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ISBN-10: 0062060740
ISBN-13: 978-0062060747
Author: Reginald Hill
Publisher: Harper

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