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The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart
Published by Zando on September 13 2022
Format/Pages: Hardcover, 256 pages
Available Formats: Hardcover, Audio, Ebook
Buy on Amazon
Warnings: Details in dead bodies/autopsies, Death/Murder
“A thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads.
Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.
But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner’s office, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren’s examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.“
When I first heard Alaina from Morbid, I had immediately preordered it. I mean, she is an autopsy technician who wrote a murder mystery book?! Sign me up!
However, after months of waiting and my excitement grew, I was disappointed with the read.
The best way I can think of to describe these characters are that they were very stereotypical and exaggerated. There was a lot of potential for deep character development, but the characters are very flat with nothing to really connect or emphasize with.
Even for the characters that I thought I had some sense of their motives, some of the ways they were introduced were vastly different than just a page later. For example, one of the victims near the end went from being super ditsy and drunk in a bar to someone who knew what amalgamation means.
Most of the dialogue did not feel natural or like what someone would actually say:
“I really am sorry about the cream. I know you hate it when I leave the empty container in the fridge like an asshole,” Leroux asked sheepishly.
While I like dialogue that helps move the plot along, I think it is extremely overdone to the point where it was a bit distracting.
“What book was that? I’m looking for some good mindless reading.” said to a book that randomly fell out of a messenger bag. I get that the character was trying to make awkward small talk, but seriously?
On that topic, there were so many scenes where action was laking, notably in regards to where someone is location wise. I found myself asking, “hold on, when did that happen??” so often I lost count.
One page he would be watching from some monitors watching their conversation, the page flips and suddenly he is hiding in the bushes right next to them. I reread that page about 10 times trying to find when he moved, but it was never explained.
Now, this book is not all negatives. The basic plot was intriguing and kept me reading – the twist surprised me (to be fair I’m always surprised).
I thought the dual perspective was an interesting addition. Although I think it could have been portrayed better I liked the contrast between the two storylines.
Overall, I wanted to love this book but I was quite disappointed. If you are wanting to read it, I would say read it, but if you have no prior want, I don’t think you’re missing anything.