The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier is a mystery/thriller that kept me guessing until the conclusion. I'm glad one of the directions I guessed did not happen. I was afraid that Matt would follow in his grandfather's footsteps.
This entire review contains spoilers. I just finished reading this chilling book about a serial killer that spans 30 years. It was like walking a tight-rope. The suspense was strung throughout the book like a taut high wire. I'd recommend it to readers of killer mysteries.
The story is about a series of killings by the "Beacon Hill Butcher" who was killed by Edward Shank. He later became a police chief after that happened. The press had clamored for the solving of these grisly murders of young women who had their left hands cut off, the killer's signature. But there was a secret signature left undiscovered for thirty years.
Matt Shank is the "Chief's" grandson who has a busy, successful restaurant & has been given the house by his grandfather. He does some remodeling & finds a buried crate with gruesome items. He's horrified & can't get the things he finds, specifically a video, out of his mind.
Matt's girlfriend Samantha aka Sam is a long-suffering sort who tolerates Matt's short-comings of his putting his restaurant business first, being emotionally unavailable & being short-tempered.
After a bout of heated love-making this conversation about Sam moving into the house with Matt took place.
"I don't understand what you're so worried about. I'm not even asking for a ring.'
"Her timing was irritating. She knew damned well she'd just drained him of all usable body fluids, and now she was hitting him up with this conversation yet again."
'I'm not worried.' Matt was careful with his tone. He was in no mood to argue. Frankly, he didn't have the strength."
Edward Shank was 80 years old but described in this way. "He was still in good shape, but the fall that had bruised his hip badly a month ago hadn't helped anything. All good things had to come to an end and while this was something he understood well, it was also something he dreaded."
'All good things must come to an end' is something that is difficult to come to terms with under the best of circumstances. When there are additional stressors, it only makes the adjustment more difficult. It's human nature to feel dread about some changes.
Matt has asked PJ his employee & friend & another friend to help him move into his new home that his grandfather gave to him. He was stressed about work overload & a pending television show that could make his restaurant Adobo even more popular.
While they were getting ready to unload the truck, the following exchange occurred.
"Snapping his gum one last time, PJ hawked, and the gum flew out of his mouth and landed on the grass. Matt frowned. The sight of that bright pink wad of chewing gum resting on on top of his perfectly manicured green lawn was ugly.
"'Seriously?' he said, not bothering to hide his annoyance. 'Don't you have any manners? Pick that shit up.'
'Don't spit your goddamn gum out on my grass. I said pick it up.'
PJ blinked and took a step back. 'Dude. Chill.' He bent down and picked up the gum, holding it gingerly between his thumb and forefinger even though it was his own. Turning, he flicked it into the sewer grate beside the curb. 'It's just gum. You can ask nicely.'
'I don't have to ask nicely. I shouldn't have to ask at all.'"
Some of the chapters were written from the point of view of the killer who had uncontrollable urges. this is the way he described them.
"But the itch hadn't gone away overnight. In fact he'd slipped a few times. Okay, more than a few, but he'd managed to quash it until Marisol. But now the itch was beginning to come back. That damn itch, screaming out for relief, consuming him with desire. It was like being horny, only a hundred times more amplified. And he knew that soon, it would be time to scratch it properly. He would need the release, and there would be no other alternative. There never had been."
The killer killed an old man in the nursing home where the Chief lived. He described it like this. "He felt so much better. It wasn't quite enough, but it would have to do. For now."
Matt & Sam are growing more distant. After his being unavailable & not returning calls she thought.
"Was it so hard not to be a dick? Sometimes Sam wondered. And then wondered about herself that she put up with it."
Shen went into the restaurant where she received special treatment. That was one aspect of being his girlfriend she appreciated.
"As Matt's girlfriend, she was always treated well here. The Adobo staff always went out of their way to make sure she had whatever she wanted, and she couldn't deny she enjoyed it...(her) drink was ready in two minutes while others around her waited impatiently for their drinks."
Edward is attempting to impart wisdom to Matthew in the following conversation.
"'Life is life, Matthew. We all play God in whatever way we can.'"
"'None of this makes any sense.'
'It doesn't have to,' the Chief said. "The why doesn't matter. It never did. After almost four decades in law enforcement, that's one of the most important things I learned. It never matters why.'"
In discussing with Matt the possiblity that he would cheat on Sam, the Chief told him: "'But we're men and we're programmed by Mother Nature to fuck anything with lipstick and a pulse.'"
That revealed a blase attitude toward women & interacting with them, especially in a sexual exchange.
After talking with the detective in charge of the investigation Edward thought: "It was important to manage the flow of information, and to reassure the public that everything was under control. Like ducks on the water, it was all smooth sailing on top and paddling like mad underneath."
Karen, the sexy producer of the televison show had been coming on to Matt. He came close to sleeping with her but backed out at the last minute by giving the woman a reminder that he had a girlfriend. It had already escalated to a point too close for comfort. She stopped but then called & texted Matt incessantly. After he told her that Sam mattered to him too much for him to have a fling with her, he thought: "she was bunny boiler territory.
Matt was half expecting her to show up at any moment with a knife, screaming, 'I will not be ignored!'"
There was an accident where Matt killed a friend & needed help disposing of the body. He felt if it were discovered his restaurant & career would be over so he asked the Chief for help. After the body was discovered in the dump he thought: "Why had the Chief put him in the dump? Why not just Dexter him and dump him in the Sound, weighted down with rocks. Because the Chief doesn't have a boat, you idiot, him mind replied."
Jason's yoga instructor & sexy girlfriend Lilac was at his apartment when Sam stopped by to ask Jason some questions. She was described like this:"She was leggy with big boobs, clad in nothing but a pair of lululemon yoga shorts that barely covered her ass and a neon sports bra that did a nice job of showing off her ample cleavage. She instantly made Sam feel short and frumpy."
Even though Sam claimed to be only friends with Jason, meeting Lilac made her realize some of the feelings she had were more than just friendly.
Matt was asking the Chief why certain things had happened. This was his response: "But Edward knew better. Some folks just liked doing bad things. In his opinion, there was no need to question it. It was why he'd stayed a cop."
"Edward had never had any interest in analyzing the whys...because the whys really weren't that fascinating."
Matt's life was crashing down around him & he thought: "Maybe there was no rewind button for life, but surely Matt could change the channel."
This book was written from the point of view of three main characters. They were fully fleshed & the dialogue was crisp & real. I would recommend this book to all mystery/thriller readers, especially those who enjoy David Baldacci, Jeffrey Deaver or Patricia Cornwell.