disclaimer – i received an e-galley of this novel from gallery books in exchange for an honest review.
i started the butcher around one in the morning, expecting to read a chapter or so and then pick it up the next day. i ended up staying up until 5:30 a.m. so that i could finish it and that isn’t something that happens to me very often.
there’s really no “mystery” to this novel. jennifer hillier gives away who the killer is in the first chapter and by the second chapter the main conflict is established. the mystery is how the identity of the killer is going to change the people in his life. if behaviour is a question of how we were born or how and by whom we were raised. and if, ultimately, we can change who we are.
there’s a lot of violence in this novel. terrifying violence against women, but also the violence of finding out that the people you know can be something completely and horrifyingly different at their core and have hidden it successfully for their entire lives. and then there’s the knowledge of knowing that you can’t even, when you finish the book and vow to delete it from your kindle forever and pretend it never happened, pretend it was all just fiction. because sometimes things like this happen.
hillier took a big chance by removing the essential “mystery” part of the story and focusing completely on the characters and how knowledge is not always a good thing. she did a great job with it, though, and it elevated this story from what could have just been another formulaic mystery/thriller into a study of who people really are and whether we really know anyone at all.
four out of five stars