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.