The Woodcutter: A Novel

The Woodcutter: A Novel

by Reginald Hill


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"Thefertility of Hill's imagination, the range of his power, the sheer quality ofhis literary style never ceases to delight." —Val McDermid,author of Fever of the Bone

In a stand-alone psychological thrillerfrom acclaimed mystery master Reginald Hill, a mysterious ex-con returns to hisremote childhood home on a deadly hunt for revenge. Combining the chillingatmospheres of Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, the narrativeingenuity of P.D. James’s The Private Patient, and the compellingcharacterizations of Hill’s own Dalziel and Pascoeseries, Hill delivers a frightful, fast-paced study of suspense at its mostsinister in The Woodcutter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062060747
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/02/2011
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 1,234,511
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Reginald Hill is a native of Cumbria and a former resident of Yorkshire, the setting for his novels featuring Superintendent Dalziel and DCI Pascoe. Their appearances have won him numerous awards, including a CWA Gold Dagger and the Car-tier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award. The Dalziel and Pascoe stories have also been adapted into a hugely popular BBC TV series.

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The Woodcutter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
advisorPL More than 1 year ago
A very tight, well written book. A distinct pleasure to resd. Not the norm these days when compared to best sellers from authors who use formulas to produce one "masterpiece" after the other. Hill's creativity and originality is very much appreciated!
graciegirlFL More than 1 year ago
This book will be one of my favorites from Reginald Hill. It pulled me in from the beginning, and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. I love Hill's humor and many classical references. He never insults the intelligence of his readers. When I read of his recent death, I felt as though I'd lost a good friend.
LisaLynne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a sense, The Woodcutter is a fairy tale. Not a cute Disney fairy tale, but one of those old Grimm Brothers¿ tales, with heartbreak and revenge and bad folks meeting nasty ends. Even while parts of the story have a very modern feel, there are still ties to its more mythic underpinnings. I really enjoyed that part of the story.Wolf Hadda is a successful businessman who describes his life as a fairy tale. His father was a woodcutter, the groundskeeper for a castle, and he grew up in a cabin in the woods. He fell in love with the daughter of the castle¿s owner and eventually won her hand. But everything changes when he is accused of a shocking crime and gets swept up in accusations and investigations. In typical Wolf fashion, he doesn¿t wait for the wheels of justice to grind him up. In a bid for freedom (more stubborn than desperate), there is an horrific accident that leaves Wolf crippled, disfigured, and near death. He wakes up to a world in which his friends have deserted him, his wife is divorcing him and he has been all but convicted of child pornography. His fairy tale is over.Years later, he agrees to see the prison psychiatrist, Alva (from the Swedish for ¿elf¿) to talk about his conviction. Their talks lead to acceptance and recognition of his crimes and, eventually, to parole. That¿e when the fun begins.The most interesting part of the book for me was Wolf¿s prison interviews with Alva. The reader, of course, begins by assuming that Wolf is innocent; Alva is convinced he is guilty. Everything he says is proof of denial, every aspect of his childhood lays the groundwork for his future perversions. She takes nothing at face value. It was both fascinating and frustrating to me as a reader ¿ you want to shout at Alva that she is being unfair to Wolf, but, of course, her reactions are perfectly normal for someone working with convicts ¿ I¿m sure most of her patients insist that they are innocent.Wolf takes up residence in his old family home, adjacent to the grounds of the castle where his in-laws still live. The rustic cabin, the isolation, the disgust of his neighbors ¿ it would be a very difficult existence for most men, but Wolf seems to thrive. After all, he is a man with a purpose¿This is really a terrific story. Some of it requires some suspension of disbelief, especially in the later chapters, but it is a modern-day crime mystery set against a fairy-tale backdrop of castles and woods and cliffs. Wolf is a fascinating character and I was not at all surprised that Alva became somewhat obsessed with him; it would be easy enough to do. The differences between Wolf¿s family and that of his ¿princess¿, Imogen, are startling and play an important role in the story, both the modern plot and the myth behind it. It¿s a thick book ¿ 500+ pages ¿ but the story draws you in and keeps you turning pages throughout. Definitely worth the reading time and effort.
Perednia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Occasionally a book comes along that engages the reader but does not lend itself easily to any category. The Woodcutter, written by crime fiction master Reginald Hill, is such a novel.It begins with Wolf Hadda, a successful man of the city, master of finance and friend to those in both government and business, a man who built an empire on his own. His life unravels as he is accused of financial misdealings and being a child pornographer. He is arrested, escapes and is grievously wounded when recaptured. His wife deserts him and his only child dies while he is in prison.Years later, this shell of a man unleashes a plot of revenge after a young prison psychologist attempts to break through what is left of his encrusted ego.Although the ups and downs of Wolf's life, told through letters, flashbacks and present-day narrative, are fascinating, it is not apparent for much of the novel whether he is guilty or innocent. If he is innocent, who would go to such elaborate lengths to set him up, and why? But if he is guilty, is he about to become an even more dangerous character if he ever is free?Hill, whose beloved series of police procedurals featuring the irrascible Dalziel and straight arrow Pascoe has grown ever more complex and rewarding over the years, goes all out in exploring what may be the dilemma of an innocent man in reclaiming his life or the extremely clever plotting of a master criminal intent on rebuilding his empire.Although a reader may form a conclusion early on as to which of these situations is the true one, it is fascinating to see how other readers could come to the opposite conclusion.The novel is ultimately about the lengths a person will go to when showing the world he has what it takes is more important than even twisted love, and definitely more important than worldly success or honor. With an ending that is all too neatly gift-wrapped and tied with a gaudy bow, a reader may be excused for wondering what all the technical prowess was about. A new relationship at the end does not honor one of the people in it because it dishonors that character's profession. And that relationship could even be seen as an authorial dismissal of that profession. If, however, the journey is what matters, then that reader will be amply rewarded by this display of Hill's considerable agility.
Amsa1959 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a bit reluctant because I love the Daziel & Pascoe series and did not want to read about some other characters...But I could not resist it and I´m glad I didn´t. I enjoyed it very much. I liked the way the story turned and twisted and the way the characters developed. I vey much would like to read more about this new and very interesting character.
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this. Fantastic narrator and gripping story. I found it interesting that I believe that Wolf was innocent and I didn't know why. Wolf has been set up and convicted of crimes and Hill builds suspense by switching back and forth between memories and present day. The depth of the injustice is revealed gradually and the ending came as a surprise to me. Fabulous audio.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: Summer 1963; Profumo disgraced; Ward dead; The Beatles' Please please me top album; Martin Luther King having his dream; JFK fast approaching the end of his; the Cold War at its chilliest; the Wind of Change blowing ever more strongly through Colonial Africa, with its rising blasts already being felt across the Gate of Tears in British-controlled Aden.Wolf Hadda's life seems to be a fairy tale: he began life as a humble woodcutter's son in a wild and remote area of Cumbria in England, and he's now an extremely successful businessman worth millions and happily married to the woman he fell in love with while in his teens. Hadda knows differently. It took a lot of hard work to get where he is. What he doesn't realize is how quickly it can all be taken away. A knock on the door of his London home one morning eventually sends him to prison, penniless and reviled by one and all. Abandoned by family, friends and business associates, Hadda retreats into silence until seven years later when prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes a breakthrough. Hadda begins to talk, and with Ozigbo's support, he is paroled and returns to his family home in rural Cumbria.Certain people are made uneasy by his release, and they should be. During a very mysterious period in Hadda's youth, he left his home and was known by his employers as The Woodcutter. The Woodcutter is back, and he's searching for the truth, and for the identity of those who framed him. To Hadda, revenge would be very sweet indeed.I made the mistake of reading this book in the pool, and it held me spellbound for so long that I nearly turned into a 5 foot 9 inch tall prune. Hill convinced me almost immediately that Hadda had been framed, and it was very skillfully done because Hadda does not wear a halo. I knew that he had a bad temper, rough edges, and had cut a corner here and there in his business, but I also knew that he was not guilty as charged.As Alva Ozigbo, the prison psychiatrist, began working with Hadda, it was amusing. She's young, very talented and intelligent, and knows just what she has to do in order to make Hadda see the error of his ways so he can be cured and released. What she doesn't know is that-- where intelligence is concerned-- Hadda runs rings around her. Once Ozigbo starts to understand what's really going on, her greatest fear is that Hadda will carry his quest for revenge too far.I could go on and on about the unfolding of the complex plot, but it's always my policy to say as little as possible about it. Why read a book review to find out everything that happens in a book? What I will say is that the plot kept me in its clutches from beginning to end, and Wolf Hadda is one of the most complex and fascinating characters I've come across in a long time. If you're looking to be lost in a good book for a considerable length of time, open The Woodcutter and begin to read. My only recommendation is to stay out of the pool while you do.
nikon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first time I've read anything by this guy - 'Reginald' and, just like his name the book itself was much the same. The title sounded great, the blurb about the actual story was intriguing so I opened it up and began to read but then, after a while (just like his name) I wanted it all shortened down - there were too many books within the one book. I longed for all the characters to do less wonderings and the main guy 'Wolf' (his name irritates after a while) should have done a helluva lot less limping and what was with all the exclamation points. However... there were some neat descriptions buried away with in the story which manage to keep you reading and there are several other good points too so, all-in-all, not the poorest read I've ever endured. It's okay Reginald but hey, a little less corn would have been a damn site better. I might try another one but not straight away - one day - one day
iddrazin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reginald Hill, the best-selling author of the Superintendant Danziel and DCI Pascoe books and TV series, has hit a new high, a mountain top high, with this splendid, engaging, tension and event-filled novel. This is the kind of book that reviewers want to be especially careful not to disclose too much, so as not to destroy the enjoyment of revelation after revelation and adventure after adventure that Hill divulges just at the right time and in just the right way, sometimes with teasing and emotional depth. The publishers say that this is a ¿psychological thriller about a mysterious ex-con looking for vengeance in his hometown.¿ It is much more than that.Rich, brilliant, respectable, well-liked, and seemingly well-married Sir Wilfred Hadda, known as Wolf and as The Woodcutter, is suddenly and unexpectedly arrested for pornography and fraud. He protests his innocence, but no one, including his wife and friends, or so it seems, believes him. He is found guilty and thrown into prison where he meets a lovely prison psychiatrist and makes a breakthrough, or so it seems. Wolf, like the characters in ancient Greek tales, seems perfect, but has a fatal flaw, a quick temper. His past is mysterious. He was born to a low class family. While a young teen-ager, he aspires to marry pretty, very rich, aloof Imogen, who takes the initiative and drops her clothes and beds him frequently. She refuses his marriage offer because of his low social class but, as in ancient fables, she gives him three tasks, which if he fulfills, she will accept him. He leaves home and is gone for five years. What occurs during the five years to this boy with raw power and determination is a well-kept secret in the book for a long while. There were some killings during these years, or so it seems. When he returns, highly educated, handsome, and fantastically rich, she¿. Later, after he is arrested, and after spending seven years in prison, far less than expected, he seeks revenge. Or does he? What is he doing and why? Who are his enemies and why?Readers will relate to Wolf, the woodcutter, the man who carries an ax, because he is so personable. ¿Yes,¿ says one of the book¿s characters to another one, ¿and he may have lost¿but it¿s still there, isn¿t it? Don¿t be ashamed of admitting it, dearie. Impossible not to like him, right? Well, imagine what he was like way back, a young lad adrift and in danger on the streets of wicked old London¿.¿ Yes, imagine Wolf¿s past, present, and future revealed with suspense and grace by a master writer.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." - C.S. LewisDespite his long, successful career, The Woodcutter was my introduction to the work of Reginald Hill. This is probably due to the fact that he is best known for a crime series with a daunting backlist. However, among his stand alone novels, Wikipedia tells me that he "frequently selects one writer or one oeuvre to use as a central organizing element of a given novel, such as one novel being a pastiche of Jane Austen's works, or another featuring elements of classical Greek myth." And that describes perfectly what he's done with The Woodcutter! It is a contemporary thriller without any fantastic elements, but it is dressed up in fairy tale tropes, making for an unusually interesting, layered read. From the opening pages: "Once upon a time, I was living happily ever after. That's right. Like in a fairy tale. How else to describe my life up till that bright autumn morning back in 2008? I was the lowly woodcutter who fell in love with a beautiful princess glimpsed dancing on the castle lawn..." The speaker is Wolf Hadda--Sir Wolf Hadda. He may have started life as a lowly woodcutter, but he's a self-made success story. Having prevailed at "three impossible tasks" to win the hand of his princess, in early middle age he's sitting on top of the world. On the above-referenced morning, when the police raid his home, as absurd as it seems, he's being accused of being a child pornographer! Things go from bad to worse, unbelievably worse, for the once high and mighty Wolf. In fact, much of the novel is comprised of sessions between himself and Elf--AKA prison psychologist Alva Ozigbo--as Wolf recounts the tale of his fall from grace. There is so much more to this story than I possibly could or should summarize. Above is the merest tip of the iceberg of the tale being told. The novel switches back and forth between the perspectives of these two characters, and gradually, gradually, a major conspiracy unfolds. And were this simply a conventional thriller, it would have worked just fine for me. The plot was delightfully complex and chock-full of twists, turns, and jaw-dropping shockers. The characters were deftly-drawn and genuinely interesting people. The novel even has a well-developed sense of humor. Reading The Woodcutter was great fun. And like a cherry on top of this excellent thriller, there were the fairy tale elements. Don't be confused, it IS a sometimes gritty thriller, not a fairy tale. Still, I had such a good time catching the many fairy tale references! It's really an achievement in creative writing. I will definitely be investigation some of Mr. Hill's backlist. Oh, and if anyone knows the title of his Jane Austen novel, please leave a note in the comments. That's exactly where I plan to start!
Magatha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Darn. I disagree with most of the reviewers. This novel never really connected with me. There's some fine, evocative writing here, and a sharp sense of place. But it seemed like something astonishing was just about to happen, except it never really did. I was also put off by the psychiatrist character. She was obviously supposed to be brilliant, but instead ended up seeming kind of dim. And everything she thought or observed or pondered was delivered with exclamation points!!! It got old.
tammydotts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When an early morning police raid meant to uncover evidence of financial fraud also uncovers involvement in child pornography, Sir Wilfred Hadda resists arrest and ends up in a coma for nine months. He awakens to find a rock-solid case against him and divorce proceedings initiated by his wife. Sir Hadda ¿ Wolf to his friends ¿ spends the next seven years in jail while his ex-wife marries his lawyer and denies Wolf any contact with his daughter.Wolf meets regularly with psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo. At first, he denies the child pornography charges, but after several sessions, Dr. Ozigbo breaks through to her patient and he claims responsibility. Granted an early release, Wolf returns to his childhood home in Cumbria and begins an investigation into what really happened.The question of Wolf¿s guilt isn¿t fully answered until near the end of Reginald Hill¿s latest pageturner The Woodcutter. And the answers involve a shadowy government agency, personal betrayals, hidden motives and lots and lots of secrets.Hill begins the novel with a quote from The Count of Monte Cristo, which should clue readers about the levels of deception from all sides. Three quick scenes follow, each depicting a different time and what appear to be turning points for the nameless characters. The scenes are riveting but quickly forgotten as the main novel picks up speed. Hill returns to the opening later, and clever readers will pick out connections.Once in prison, the novel focuses solely on the cat-and-mouse game between Wolf and Alva. Wolf provides Alva with written pieces of his backstory until he achieves a breakthrough and ends what Alva sees as self-denial.Upon Wolf¿s release, the novel switches gears. Characters viewed only through his prison writings take their own turn center stage. McLucky, the policeman who guarded Wolf in the hospital, is now a private investigator Wolf hires to look into the crimes. A Russian mobster who fancies Imogen, Wolf¿s ex-wife, becomes a tool for Wolf to use. Imogen and her monied family have their own secrets to hide.The novel changes from a psychological thriller to a hardboiled crime story, with all the high and low points of the genre. Alva discovers she¿s sexually attracted to Wolf, despite believing he¿s a pedophile. Coincidences make for convenient plot points. The final plot twist delivered by Imogen seems to come out of nowhere and isn¿t necessary.But the overall writing is well done, and Hill takes his time setting up the final unraveling of the mysteries. Every character serves a purpose and moves Wolf closer to not only finding his answers but to revenge.Hill knows how to create a complicated plot that doesn¿t lose the reader¿s interest. Even readers who figure out the mystery before the end will want to keep reading to see how all the seemingly disparate pieces fit together and how Wolf and Alva handle the answers they uncover.The Woodcutter isn¿t a book that will change your life or open your eyes to a truth about the human condition. It is, however, an entertaining mystery that you won¿t be sorry you spent time with.
bjmitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a stand-alone novel by the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. It's a psychological thriller about a mysterious, disfigured but mesmerizing man from Cumbria in England. His name is Wilfred Hadda but everyone knows him as Wolf which is much more fitting. Wolves can be vicious killers, but they are also tender toward members of their pack, i.e. the ones they love.Wolf Hadda is the son of the estate manager at Ulphingstone Castle. His father teaches him to be a woodcutter so that he'll always have a skill to fall back on. Wolf is besotted with Imogen, the daughter of Sir Leon and Lady Kira of Ulphingstone, and she lusts after him as well, but tells him she could never marry him unless he becomes rich, speaks well, and learns proper manners. Of course he goes away, which is a mysterious story in itself, and comes back a finished product to marry the now pregnant Imogen.Several years later he is suddenly arrested, charged with fraud and pedophilia. The case is solid against him; he doesn't stand a chance. He attempts escape and is hit by a truck. The accident nearly kills him.That's just the beginning of this intriguing, masterful story. Wolf's character is fascinating, as is Imogen and several other characters, mainly the psychiatrist assigned to him in prison. You learn background gradually throughout the book and I was taken aback many times at a new twist, each time learning something new about Wolf but never quite catching him entirely. There is a shocking, surprising ending and only then did I feel like I understood everything that had happened.This is a great story, a long one but worth the time and effort. No light beach read, this is a book that makes you think and ponder and just when you think you know what's going to happen, there's another "gotcha." I can't recommend this highly enough.
the.ken.petersen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a brilliant piece of writing, and proof that Reg Hill should be counted amongst the most talented scribes of our time.Although this is a crime novel, of sorts, it is very different from the series detective novels (Dalziel and Pascoe, Joe Sixsmith): there is much less humour and quite a complex storyline. As every good crime writer does, Hill allows the reader the smug satisfaction of guessing one or two of his plot lines whilst holding the better ones to burst upon a surprised audience. Were I to set out the plot, there would be two problems; firstly, it would take much space, as this is a spiralling story of some intricacy. Secondly, it would seem far fetched - it is - and that is also where Reg Hill's skill comes into play. Whilst reading, the book seems plausible, it is only when the reader stops to think, that the stretching of credibility shines forth. Mr Hill has a way of dealing with that too: he makes the book race on so that one does not have time to consider the likelihood of such events.Five hundred and eighty pages flew by and, I would have liked a further thousand, or two; it is always a pleasure to drink in the work of such a fine craftsman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The initial chapters are promising, but spots in the book are too slow and the last quarter has too many unbelievable twists and coincidences. Entertains, good character development and sense of setting, but not brilliant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very interesting, non series novel
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