Reginald Hill,
The Woodcutter
(Harper, 2011)

Not long ago we lost a prolific writer of top-class fiction. Reginald Hill is probably best known for his detective creations Dalziel & Pascoe, brought to life on television in a series of excellent dramas. His lesser-known creation was Joe Sixsmith, but we often forget his great stand-alone novels like The Stranger House and this one, The Woodcutter.

Hill had a great knack of writing as we think and speak, and his written words thunder through our minds as we read. Added to that is devious mind that constantly leads us through plot twists, sympathy changes and even sometimes the odd political polemic about modern life -- but the story is paramount and never fails or falters.

In The Woodcutter we encounter Wilfred Hadda, surely one of the least likely names for what turns out to be a bit of an "action hero" in the down-to-earth sense. In many ways this is like a fairy tale, and in fact Hill uses that trait at times, especially with the titular wood cutter, his nickname "Wolf" and his almost princess bride. He also uses an ingenious method of letting us know the backstory and the thoughts of protagonists.

Apart from the scene-setting prologue, the story opens with a dawn raid on a well-to-do financial whiz kid. His crimes are those of the modern headlines: child abuse and fraud. But is he guilty? Through almost 600 pages you will seesaw between yes and no. You will wonder how he could be anything but guilty. You will dislike him and then find yourself rooting for him.

As in all such suspense thrillers, it is difficult to review it without spoiling the ending. Regardless of that I will encourage you to seek it out and allow yourself be drawn into the tale. You will not be disappointed. But I almost guarantee you will be seeking out more of Hill's works, and even if you have seen the Dalziel & Pascoe programs, go and read the books; there is much more in them and the writing is a treat.

book review by
Nicky Rossiter

1 September 2012

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new