The Woodcutter

The Woodcutter

Wolf Hadda's life has been a fairytale. From humble origins as a Cumbrian woodcutter's son, he has risen to become a successful entrepreneur, happily married to the girl of his dreams. A knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison, abandoned by friends & family, Wolf retreats into silence....

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Title:The Woodcutter
Author:Reginald Hill
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Woodcutter Reviews

  • SenoraG

    It is hard to give a good review of this book without giving too much away. I will say this is my first book by Reginald Hill and I don't know how I missed him!

    The Woodcutter is a revenge story but so much more. It's also a psychological thriller that gets us into the mind of an accused man. I love that it was a non-stop guessing game. I felt like I was in one of those labyrinths where you think you know where you are going only to hit a wall. It was mystery after mystery with an end that I nev

    It is hard to give a good review of this book without giving too much away. I will say this is my first book by Reginald Hill and I don't know how I missed him!

    The Woodcutter is a revenge story but so much more. It's also a psychological thriller that gets us into the mind of an accused man. I love that it was a non-stop guessing game. I felt like I was in one of those labyrinths where you think you know where you are going only to hit a wall. It was mystery after mystery with an end that I never saw coming or even imagined coming. I think I am blue from holding my breath to see what was going to happen next.

    I actually picked this book up to read the first page or so just to see if it would appeal to me and I was going to read it at a later time. BUT, it pulled me in and I could not put the darn thing down. I was tired for work the entire week.

    I really developed a fondness for Wolf Hadda. Not to say he was the nicest of men but he was a good soul who got a dirty deal from those he trusted. I enjoyed his humor and his relationship with his psychiatrist, Dr. Ozigbo. I loved the scene where she found him showering in the forest.

    The Woodcutter is one hell of a thriller and I will be looking for more books by this author.

  • Trish

    This ripping great genre-smashing yarn is set 300 miles northwest of London in the mountainous Cumbrian region of England. Bordered on the north by Scotland, and on the west by the Irish Sea, the location itself gives a cold, hard, craggy feel to the formative youth of our hero. His return, in later years, to this rugged place for the

    makes a pleasing symmetry that reinforces the chill we feel when contemplating the brutality of his life.

    Our hero is born of a woodcutter, falls in lo

    This ripping great genre-smashing yarn is set 300 miles northwest of London in the mountainous Cumbrian region of England. Bordered on the north by Scotland, and on the west by the Irish Sea, the location itself gives a cold, hard, craggy feel to the formative youth of our hero. His return, in later years, to this rugged place for the

    makes a pleasing symmetry that reinforces the chill we feel when contemplating the brutality of his life.

    Our hero is born of a woodcutter, falls in love with the squire’s daughter, and seeks to breach the obstacles that separate their lives. It may be that romance is never far from the heart of a successful mystery, and it appears to be so in this case. But the swiftness with which we are entangled in the events which overtake our hero is due entirely to the prurient nature of the allegations, the documented and well-known love of readers for trashy sensationalism, and the skills of this exceptionally practiced author.

    Author Reginald Hill, widely adored for his long-running Dalziel and Pascoe series, always has a strong sense of character and place in his novels. In this stand-alone mystery, he surpasses himself in presenting a tightly woven narrative from various points of view, with shifting time frames, pacing, and locales. And throughout he manages to preserve the essential humanity, and therefore goodness, of even his wickedest assassin (except, perhaps, Ni-KEE-tin). This earns the characters, despite their failings, our interest, our understanding, and ultimately, our forgiveness. If the author strays occasionally into hyperbole to drive home…an axe, a prick, a character trait...well, we forgive him, too.

    Hill's

    is a limited affair, but worth perusal.

  • Carol

    I loved this well written, over the top yarn. I couldn't put the book down.

  • Lisa Hura

    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

    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.

  • Shilpi Goel

    I'm a moth to the flame of

    British suspense thrillers --- I get drawn to them, I flutter excitedly around them, and I lose focus of much else while the flame burns. And eventually, when the flame does go out, I carry a little of the light inside me for a long, long time.

    Thankfully, there are many such books --- nay, let me call them literary works, and "The Woodcutter" by Reginald Hill falls resoundingly in this category. If I sat down and carefully made a list of the best things ab

    I'm a moth to the flame of

    British suspense thrillers --- I get drawn to them, I flutter excitedly around them, and I lose focus of much else while the flame burns. And eventually, when the flame does go out, I carry a little of the light inside me for a long, long time.

    Thankfully, there are many such books --- nay, let me call them literary works, and "The Woodcutter" by Reginald Hill falls resoundingly in this category. If I sat down and carefully made a list of the best things about such works, I bet this book would get a check in every column. Character development would come near the top of such a list, as would the narrative. Emotional and moral appeal wouldn't lag far behind. Anticipation, tinged with just the right amount of suspense, would have a prominent place on the list too.

    I won't give much of a blurb for this story here. I'll just leave you with this teaser: Sir Wilfred Hadda ("Wolf"), an ex-con who returns to his childhood home in the fairyland of Cumbria, seeks revenge (or does he?!). Who is to blame for the way his life turned out? How high does this go? Was he guilty of the crimes he was convicted for? Will the prison psychiatrist, Alva, and the local vicar, Luke, figure out the enigma of the Wolf?

    The author paints an indelible picture with every sentence. Granted, Cumbria is a place that can turn even the least imaginative sourpuss into a poet who could have given Wordsworth and Coleridge (both with Cumbrian connections) a run for their talent. But that doesn't diminish the effect that Hill's prose, very akin to superior poetry, had on me.

    I also loved coming across little nuggets of wisdom and common sense that I feel happy to categorize as "quotable quotes". An example is something I remember off the top of my head: "When necessity rules, regret is as pointless as resistance.". Such words are quintessentially British; they transform something that we all know and hence, that would normally be so obvious that it'd be unoriginal to vocalize, into something that appears magnificent. Such sentences give you a whole new appreciation of things you thought you knew and change the

    you have towards that knowledge. Very rarely would you find a fluid and meaningful line like this in American literature.

    The only thing I'd say that won't eulogize this book as much as everything else I've said before is that as it neared its end, the story became a tad predictable. However, there's nothing really wrong with that. It was the ending that my heart and brain wanted, and even if there could have been many different ways of reaching that very end, what's the harm in getting what I want?

  • ✨Susan✨

    Good twists and turns up to the last page. You think you've got something figured out - but surprise... The main character, Wolf, starts his young life with a somewhat black op's type upbringing. Later in life he builds a very lucrative above board dynasty. In a matter of a week he is charged with a heinous crime, almost beaten to death, jailed, divorced by his wife and stripped of every dime he has ever made. After years of being incarcerated he moves back to his childhood home and follows in h

    Good twists and turns up to the last page. You think you've got something figured out - but surprise... The main character, Wolf, starts his young life with a somewhat black op's type upbringing. Later in life he builds a very lucrative above board dynasty. In a matter of a week he is charged with a heinous crime, almost beaten to death, jailed, divorced by his wife and stripped of every dime he has ever made. After years of being incarcerated he moves back to his childhood home and follows in his fathers steps as a Woodcutter. As the tail of deciept unwinds each reveal is more treacherous than the one before. An intricately plotted story with well developed characters, and writing that was almost poetic at times. I found this a little slow to get into but when the book took off I couldn't put it down, I'm a bit sad now that I've finished it.

  • Dana Stabenow

    Three stars is not my normal grade for a Reginald Hill book. I adore Hill, I revere him, and I learn from him every single time I read him. But I am really puzzled by this book. The characters are so exaggerated it's difficult to like any of them, except maybe McLucky, and this 'revenger's tragedy' of a plot is way over the top.

    One thing I do love is his descriptions of the Cumbrian countryside, as in:

    ...in

    Three stars is not my normal grade for a Reginald Hill book. I adore Hill, I revere him, and I learn from him every single time I read him. But I am really puzzled by this book. The characters are so exaggerated it's difficult to like any of them, except maybe McLucky, and this 'revenger's tragedy' of a plot is way over the top.

    One thing I do love is his descriptions of the Cumbrian countryside, as in:

    (p202)

    Worth reading, because any book with the name Reginald Hill on the cover is worth reading, both as a reader and a writer. But not his best.

  • Tammy Dotts

    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 A

    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.

  • Joanne Sheppard

    If GoodReads would let me, I'd give this three-and-a-half stars.

    Wilfred 'Wolf' Hadda is a wealthy self-made businessman with a working class rural background and a possibly shady past, married to the daughter of a Cumbrian aristocrat and with a circle of upper-class friends. At the start of the novel, his empire crumbles around him as he's arrested not just for fraud but also for child porn offences. Subsequently, his prison psychologist - young and pretty, naturally - tries to unpic

    If GoodReads would let me, I'd give this three-and-a-half stars.

    Wilfred 'Wolf' Hadda is a wealthy self-made businessman with a working class rural background and a possibly shady past, married to the daughter of a Cumbrian aristocrat and with a circle of upper-class friends. At the start of the novel, his empire crumbles around him as he's arrested not just for fraud but also for child porn offences. Subsequently, his prison psychologist - young and pretty, naturally - tries to unpick the reasons for Wolf's apparent offences, and finds herself drawn into his complex world of secrets and deception.

    While I enjoyed The Woodcutter and found Wolf's story a compelling one, there's no doubt that the novel could have been 100 pages shorter, and there were some elements of the plot that stretched the suspension of my disbelief to breaking point: would a man really name his multinational business after his former secret service pseudonym, for a start? I also found it a little hard to reconcile aspects of Wolf's character with others' assertions that he is universally liked by all who meet him. Even prior to his arrest, which leaves him disfigured and embittered, his behaviour and manner doesn't suggest to me a man who would automatically charm everyone he encounters; I didn't find him especially likeable myself. I was also mildly irritated by the ugly-middle-aged-man-is-mysteriously-irresistible-to-exotic-young-woman-in-her-20s aspect of the novel, which seems to be a constant wish-fulfilment device employed by male thriller writers (see also Stieg Larsson).

    That said, The Woodcutter was a diverting read overall that combined elements of spy fiction, adventure, detective novel and psychological thriller to good effect, albeit with one or two holes in its plot. I also enjoyed the different techniques Hill used to tell the story, with varying narrators and points-of-view all bringing a new layer of perspective and a couple of revelations I really wasn't expecting.

  • Jessica at Book Sake

    The Woodcutter is the most tedious book I’ve ever read (okay, maybe not, but it’s up there). The perspective shifts from person to person and I had to reread large sections of the book to get a grasp on what was actually happening – is this a flashback, a new development in the plot, or the back of my eyelids? I was also not impressed with the plausibility of certain relationships in the book, not because I cared about the likelihood of these particular people hooking up, but because I couldn’t

    The Woodcutter is the most tedious book I’ve ever read (okay, maybe not, but it’s up there). The perspective shifts from person to person and I had to reread large sections of the book to get a grasp on what was actually happening – is this a flashback, a new development in the plot, or the back of my eyelids? I was also not impressed with the plausibility of certain relationships in the book, not because I cared about the likelihood of these particular people hooking up, but because I couldn’t care less about the characters in general. The author never really grabbed my attention and the 500+ pages were torturous bits of often irrelevant dialogue and mind-numbing storyline. I would recommend this book to people whose company I don’t enjoy all that much.

    Reviewed by Brittany for

    .

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