Book reviews

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Reginald Hill so far, but The Woodcutter was a stand-out for me from this author. During my recent summer holiday I ignored the spring cleaning I’d saved up to do over my break along with several other good intentions and instead sat in the sun reading this psychological thriller. The spring cleaning will just have to wait until next spring…

The Woodcutter is a stand-alone story from the author who is probably best known for his Dalziel and Pascoe novels. I do intend to work my way through those eventually but want to start at the beginning of the series and haven’t yet come across A Clubbable Woman yet.

This story of The Woodcutter belongs to Sir Wilfred Hadda, who is called Wolf. He was the son of a Cumbrian wood cutter who, despite his wildness, somehow got into the heart of most of the people he met. Despite his low background, Wolf became an extremely wealthy businessman who married his teenage sweetheart, an upper-class woman whose aristocratic family had opposed their marriage.

Wolf’s empire failed when he was charged with both fraud and being involved in a paedophile ring. He was hit by a bus trying to escape from the police and when he woke up, he had lost an eye, several fingers and was lame. Not only that, but is wife had divorced him to marry his former lawyer and their daughter had died from a drug overdose.

The action begins with Wolf in a maximum security prison undergoing psychiatric sessions with Dr Alva Ozigbo. Wolf tells her his story and after eventually having accepted his guilt and showing remorse for his actions, was released from prison and returned to the woods of Cumbria where he set about exacting revenge on everyone who has contributed to his downfall, including his former business partners, police, criminals and his wife.

The descriptions of the rugged, hard Cumbrian landscapes suited the main character in this story perfectly. I liked the minor characters and the humour, too. I had no inkling of how the story would finish until I read the last few pages.

The Woodcutter was also the perfect book for holiday reading as the hardback edition I read would have been far too heavy to read cofortably on the train, then carry in a backpack from the train station to my workplace. (I know, I know, first world problems…)

So, highly recommended by me and I’ll continue to search for early Dalziel and Pascoe novels.

Comments on: "The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill" (10)

  1. Gosh, it’s so long since I read this that I can’t remember a thing about it even after reading your review! I must see if it’s on my shelf – I bought all the D&P books but borrowed some of the others from the library. Have you come across his Joe Sixsmith series? They’re fun too… 😀

  2. Yes, I’ve read and enjoyed one of the Joe Sixsmith books. He’s a terrific character. The story I read set around a group of golfers and I think was a tribute to P.G. Wodehouse. I must look out for another.

  3. Wow, this sounds so dramatic that it’s hard to imagine it can possibly be a good read! But clearly it is and it might perhaps be the one to introduce me to Reginald Hill’s work. I used to enjoy Dalziel and Pascoe on tv but I have too many detective series that I tell myself I will read and then feel overwhelmed at how many books that implies. I’ll be looking for this standalone at the library 🙂

  4. Everyone seems to love the Dalziel and Pascoe series, but it is such a big commitment to take a series on! I have read one, which FictionFan recommended as a tribute to Jane Austen’s Sanditon, which was excellent. It is called A Cure For All Diseases or in other parts of the world, The Price of Butcher’s Meat. It worked as a stand-alone, but no doubt would have been better read as part of the series.

  5. Thank you, Rose! I must have missed that post from FF – or perhaps it came in a comment on your blog that I missed. Either way, thanks for the suggestion. I read Sanditon last year and watched the new tv adaptation. Hard to imagine Dalziel & Pascoe and Sanditon connected!

  6. The connection between Sanditon and Dalziel in particular is very clever. I’m still looking forward to the tv adaptation coming my way…

  7. It’s controversial. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you finally get to see it 🙂

  8. Yes, it sounds as if the main character is a stirrer!

  9. It’s very modern. I liked it – once I’d got passed the fact that it’s really not Austen. Needs to be taken on its own terms. Doesn’t look like there will be another series. Also controversial given the closing scenes.

  10. Yes, I had raised eyebrows a few times too! But I really appreciated and enjoyed the homage to Sanditon.

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