Author Jennifer Hillier seems to have a high-key interest in serial killers. And that’s not a bad thing. Several of her books focus on murders committed by serial killers. I dug into the old book vault to the year 2014 to retrieve Hillier’s THE BUTCHER.
I’ll just start right off with a content warning: gruesome murders, suicide, incest, rape and abusive relationships are all at play in this story. However, there is a good story once you sort through all the terrifying aspects.
A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.
Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.
Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.
I’ll be honest – there aren’t a lot of likeable characters in THE BUTCHER. Even Sam, the heroine, has a lot of faults, particularly that she doesn’t love her boyfriend so why does she put up with a lot of BS that she could have ended a long time ago? Why, girl?
However, this somewhat police-procedural has Sam digging to find out if her mother was killed by THE BUTCHER all the while suspecting he’s not dead. Matt is an absolute douche of a boyfriend, but he has demons to deal with, including his grandfather, the retired, famous police chief.
THE BUTCHER was certainly a page-turner and I did enjoy the viewpoint of the serial killer – no spoilers! – we get a glimpse into what his thoughts are as to why he killed people for years.
I’ve read Hillier’s Jar of Hearts (about a case involving a serial killer) and Little Secrets (about a child abduction, yikes!) and I enjoyed THE BUTCHER almost as much as those two. My library recently purchased Wonderland (a police procedural set in a circus) so I’ll review that one as soon as I’m finished reading it.
I rate THE BUTCHER four out of five stars.