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The Butcher

The Butcher

4.3 31
by Jennifer Hillier

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From the acclaimed author of Creep and Freak whom #1 bestselling author Jeffery Deaver praised as a “top-of-the-line thriller writer,” a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally


From the acclaimed author of Creep and Freak whom #1 bestselling author Jeffery Deaver praised as a “top-of-the-line thriller writer,” a high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die—until they kill again.

A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.

Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep, dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.

Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.

“A tense, suspenseful, thoroughly creepy thriller” (Booklist), The Butcher will keep you guessing until the bitter, bloody end. Don’t miss this “thrill ride that will have your attention from start to finish” (Suspense Magazine).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hillier (Freak) squanders an intriguing premise with poor plotting and lackluster characterization in this disappointing psychological thriller. In 1985, Capt. Edward Shank of the Seattle PD made his reputation by apprehending the Beacon Hill Butcher, a serial killer who terrorized the Pacific Northwest. In the present, soon after Shank’s grandson, Matthew, discovers highly unsettling evidence regarding the case among the retired police chief’s papers, the murders resume. Hillier trots out a series of disturbing crimes—rape, dismemberment, incest, sodomy—but her writing fails to get any horror across. The killer, meanwhile, remains a concept rather than a well-rounded character. Sluggish pacing undermines the suspense, while much of the novel focuses on an entirely predictable love triangle and a subplot about Matthew’s reality TV ambitions. Although the high body count and the gore may attract some readers, the story fails to deliver on its initial promise. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg. (July)
“As she ably proved in her debut (Creep, 2011), [Hillier] has a fine knack for creating hideous killers. This time she turns the formula whodunit on its head… A tense, suspenseful, thoroughly creepy thriller.”
Suspense Magazine
"Once I got started I couldn’t stop reading, and I confess to having sweaty palms a few times. A thrill ride that will have your attention from start to finish! This one is 4.5 stars."
Dead End Follies
"The Butcher is a clever, twisted thriller about genetics, faith, and death . . . The greatest thing about The Butcher is its uncanny ability to trump the narrative conventions of the conventional serial killer novel over and over again . . Jennifer Hillier's prose remains fast paced and immensely readable as her content becomes quirkier and more cerebral with every novel."
RT Reviews (Top Pick)
"Hillier writes beautifully horrific stories… Readers will be immersed until the final page, thanks to the velocity at which this unique thriller is told.”
Fresh Fiction
"[A] rapid-fire thriller of dark, unsettling proportions with some very surprising twists. With the turn of each new page, the suspenseful plot is tense and gripping...a skillfully penned tale of murder and cover-up that will keep readers enthralled until the powerful finish. Thriller fans should not miss The Butcher!
Raven Crime Reads (UK)
"Wholly entertaining...I was hooked throughout...A devilishly dark read."
Robert Dugoni
"[Freak] freaked me out – in a good way. In a word, “frightening.” Jennifer Hillier creates a truly scary killer in Abby Maddox, the female version of Hannibal Lecter – smart, cunning and wickedly evil. I was engrossed on page one, couldn’t put the book down and breathless at the ending. Be prepared for a late night's reading. Then sleep with the lights on – if you can. This one blew me away."
New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver
“You'd better call in sick, because you’re not going anywhere until youfinish reading it. Oh, and you might want to lock the door, just to be safe....Top of the line thriller writing."
NJ Journal of Books
“Replete with plot twists and surprises, The Butcher is an engrossing tale that piques the reader’s interest immediately and then holds on to it like an angry pitbull.”
Kirkus Reviews
Thirty years ago, Seattle Police Capt. Edward Shank put down a serial killer dubbed the Butcher. Edward’s bullet ended Rufus Wedge’s sorry life. But did the killings end?Hillier’s (Freak, 2012, etc.) third thriller fairly shudders with tension. Edward is ready to retire to an assisted living facility and give his grandson, Matt, the family home, a beloved Victorian in a posh neighborhood. An up-and-coming chef, Matt has parlayed his successful food-truck business into Adobo, the hottest restaurant in town, and the reality show networks are calling. The only trouble is that his girlfriend, Samantha, can’t understand why Matt hasn’t invited her to move in, too. After all, they’ve been together for three years. Pressuring Matt, though, isn’t getting her anywhere, and even their friend—well, really Sam’s friend—Jason is a little mystified. Certainly, Matt’s history of anger management trouble gives Jason pause. While Matt renovates the house and works late, Sam turns back to researching her latest true-crime book. This time, she has a personal investment. She’s convinced that her mother was killed by the notorious Butcher. Bored at the retirement home, Edward has become an invaluable sounding board. Like the Butcher’s other victims, Sam’s mother was raped, strangled and left in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for Sam’s theory, her mother was killed two years after Rufus Wedge’s death. Meanwhile, Matt’s contractor has unearthed a crate filled with gruesome artifacts. As Matt investigates the crate’s contents and Sam questions a mysterious informant, their romance unravels and the body count begins to rise. Hillier sends her reader into a labyrinth of creepy twists and grotesque turns. There’s no escape from the brutal truths exposed.The secrets of the past refuse to keep quiet in this disquieting, taut thriller.

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Gallery Books
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Read an Excerpt

The Butcher


    The ornately carved 1890 Mathushek upright piano was the only thing left in Edward’s house, and here it would stay. There was no way to bring it with him to the old folks’ home, because the goddamned piano had to weigh at least five hundred pounds.

    He would miss it.

    Once upon a time, the Mathushek lived in a saloon somewhere in Texas. It was originally a player piano that could belt out seventeen different tunes without anyone’s help, which must have seemed like magic back then. The saloon closed after a Mexican gang shot the place up, and the piano was brought to the owner’s house, where it stayed until he died of a heart attack while fucking his mistress, a former singer in the saloon. The mistress then inherited the piano, and it stayed in her family until her adult grandchildren decided to sell it at auction. By then, the Mathushek was in terrible shape, dented and scratched and out of tune, and it had taken almost a year to restore it to its original beauty.

    Or so the story went, according to the man who’d refurbished it and sold it to Edward Shank thirty years ago for twice what it was probably worth. The guy could have been lying, as most salesmen did. Anyway, who gave a rat’s ass? It didn’t matter now.

    The bay window in the living room where the piano sat had a clear view of Poppy Lane, and Edward stood in front of it, smoking a cherry-flavored cigar, watching, waiting. He didn’t have much time left in this house, and after fifty years as its sole owner, the thought wasn’t pleasant. He didn’t want to move out, but at eighty years old, the house was becoming harder to keep up. 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. He could see a faint reflection of himself in the clean window. Some days he simply didn’t recognize the thinning mop of white hair and leathery lined face staring back at him.

    His hand, still strong but dotted with sun spots, stroked the burl walnut wood of the antique piano lovingly. He traced the rose carvings with a finger that ached from arthritis, his bad hip throbbing slightly, though he refused to sit down. Edward would miss this house. He would miss this piano. Memories of his late wife and daughter were everywhere, and he could still recall the fresh smell of their apple-scented shampoo when he kissed the backs of their heads as they played “Heart and Soul” on the beautiful Mathushek. A lifetime ago. In just a few hours, he would be an official resident of the Sweetbay Village Retirement Residence, and from then on the most exciting thing in his life would be bingo tournaments on Saturday afternoons, and Mac ’n’ Cheese Wednesdays.

    He didn’t know whether to kill himself, or someone else.

    He sighed. Maybe he’d go for a drive later this week, and go hunting. Hunting used to always cheer him up. He still had his old cabin down in Raymond, though he hadn’t been there in years and had no idea what shape it was in. One day those two hundred acres of densely wooded forest in Raymond would be Matthew’s, too.

    But not yet.

    Moving away from the window, Edward glanced at the wall above the piano. It was bare now, save for the little scuffs left behind from the various framed photos that used to hang there. He’d already brought all of his pictures over to the old folks’ home—sorry, retirement community for active seniors—but he knew the exact spot where his favorite photo used to hang. It was taken the day the mayor of Seattle awarded him a medal for taking down the notorious Beacon Hill Butcher back in April of ’85. The day Captain Edward Shank had become a hero and Seattle legend. The case, nationally known, had almost single-handedly made his career. You didn’t become chief of police for writing speeding tickets and catching petty thieves. The Butcher had been the case of a lifetime, and he still got requests for interviews about it every now and again.

    Though he was alone, Edward grinned, running his tongue over the smooth white dentures that made up his smile.

    There was a sizable dent in the corner of the piano, and his sore finger traced the rough edges where the wood had chipped and cracked. The dent hadn’t been there long, and it was a damned shame it existed at all, because otherwise the instrument was in wonderful condition. Marisol, his late wife, had seen to that. She’d been diligent about keeping the Mathushek in tip-top shape, moisturizing it regularly with wood polish and hiring a professional piano tuner once a year.

    The ivory keys were slightly worn in places, but still soft to the touch. Edward could play the piano a little, though the arthritis was making it harder. Taking a seat at the leather bench, he rested his cigar on the ceramic ashtray on top of the piano and flexed his fingers. He made it halfway through Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata before his aching fingers forced him to stop.

    Disappointing, but not a big deal. Marisol had been the musician in the family, a graduate of Juilliard and a pianist in the Seattle symphony for a few years. She’d also taught piano right up until the day she died, and Edward had always been content to be her captive audience. Their daughter Lucy had been talented too, only she hadn’t lived long enough to develop her mother’s skill.

    His hip burned and he rubbed it gingerly. He stood carefully by the window once more, watching, waiting, six-foot-four frame erect and ready. If anyone strolling down the sidewalk looked up, he or she would see a sprightly eighty-year-old man standing ramrod straight in the window, dressed in a plaid button-down shirt and pressed trousers, cigar smoke swirling around neatly combed silver hair. One must always present himself well. First impressions mattered.

    But Poppy Lane was quiet on this rainy Sunday afternoon, at least until his grandson Matthew arrived with the U-Haul and his friends. Matthew was moving in today, and Edward knew his job would be to stay out of his grandson’s way until the young men had unloaded everything. Then he would take the boys out for burgers before heading over to the old folks’ home for good.

    Watching. Waiting. Edward had been a police detective for close to forty years, and patience was indeed his virtue.

    The white U-Haul truck finally rounded the bend, bouncing down the street, another car following behind it. The boys were here. Soon it would be time to go.

    At best, it was bittersweet.

    Taking one final look around, Edward’s gaze once again lingered on the antique piano. His eyes misted as memories of Marisol came rushing back. God, how he missed his wife. The house hadn’t been the same without her these past few months. Reaching out, he once again touched the dent on the side of the Mathushek, left there from when he’d smashed her head into it four months ago.

    At least he’d managed to get all the blood out of the carved roses before calling 9-1-1, despite his arthritic hands.

    One must always be careful cleaning up after a kill.

  • Meet the Author

    Jennifer Hillier is the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, she lives in the Seattle area with her husband and son. Visit her on the web at JenniferHillier.ca.

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    The Butcher 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
    karen014 More than 1 year ago
    I have read this authors 2 previous books, and she just gets better and better w/each one. wish I could give more than 5 stars!!!!
    me13 More than 1 year ago
    Good book. A quick read. Not a suspenseful page turner but still very good and this author has a lot of potential. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book had me hooked from start to finish. Highly recommend.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was a wonderful compilation of everything I look for in a thriller. It hadme glued to my seat from page one. Can't wait to read the rest of her books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I've sat here for almost 20 minutes trying to gather my thoughts on this book, but I can't put into words how much I love this author and have enjoyed all of her books, including this one. Do yourself a favor and just pick up this book!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This author is very reliable at creating relatable characters, and Sam and company are no exception. So many complex emotions...extremely well conveyed... building suspense all the way to the very intense, and satisfying ending. Hillier captured the way a master manipulator operates perfectly, in my opinion. The way everyone reacts differently to the smoke screen. The confusion they feel when the manipulator lashes out to redirect them...Shank is a very dark, & dynamic villain. He made me very uncomfortable. 5 stars! @Casey_L_Clark
    bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
    Lots of murder, rape, and suffering in this book.  I think it was not a bad effort by the author, who is still new to writing I imagine.  Predictable from the start and yet not a bad story line running through the book.  I would have liked less predictability as a reader and a bit more mystery  – there were too many clues from the author to the reader along the way.  I am sure the author  was worried the reader might feel robbed, but she gave plenty away without all the extra clues.  This author needs to give her readers more credit for thinking on their own and not leading them along like a pack horse.   If you like murder mysteries you might enjoy this fast paced book – short and quick to read  – I started last night and finished up today.  I think her next book will be better as her writing  improves and hopefully she lets the reader come to their own conclusion without throwing so many clues at them – I like a bit more mystery in my mystery.   Also, I think that Sam was a bit dumber then she should have been when it came to the mystery behind her mother’s death.  Clues were screaming at me and yet she walked around like she was asleep the whole book.  I do realize I know more than the characters, but please – if you give her  brains she needs to keep those throughout the book and not lose them around the killers.   And what happened to the girlfriend whats her name?  Too many holes to mention.  Anyone can write thrillers if you use enough f-bombs and rape - burn and torture your victims  - me I like a bit more mystery in my books.
    Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
    I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review. This is one of those books that you just can not believe that the serial killer is someone with power. Though you find out early on who it is.  I normally like to be guessing until the very very end who the killer is or was, and when I know early on it normally drops my rating down on the book. But with The Butcher, to me it is a solid 5 star rating. Being as the way The Butcher is connected to the other characters within the story and they have no clue until something is unearthed in the backyard. With this damaging evidence that could bring the serial killer to justice the person who finds it doesn't quite believe his eyes. We start the book off with a murder occurring which has you already wondering where is this exactly going to go.  Then we start meeting the characters Matt who is very strong willed and wants to be successful at his restaurant. His girlfriend Sam who writes crime novels, and her latest writing will be about The Butcher who was killed when found by the police. And the Chief who is Matt's grandfather and the person who took down the famous serial killer The Butcher.  Matt and Sam have a weird relationship they are together but once Matt gets his grandfather's house he starts distancing himself from her. Sam who believes that The Butcher is still alive being as he killed her mother goes on a quest to get answers.   When Matt finds out the dark truth hidden in the house that he lives in, he lets it get to him. And when that happens his does the unthinkable thing and ends up calling his grandfather for help.  Now Sam gets the police involved with opening up the case again and the police of course ask the Chief for his advice on things. But is this the best thing to do? Secrets come out that can damage everyone. Does this keep you on the edge of your seat, umm to me not so much. The gruesome fact not really there except with the cutting of something up. The romance or sex scenes not truly there. Yes there was one part but it was nothing that you have to cover your eyes and go OMG. Overall really good story being told. Different, being as you get to know the serial killer early on but everything unravels to the why and how this person got away with it. Is justice serve? Yes it is for all those involved.  I really like this author and will be checking out the other books written by her to see if they are just as good.
    quaintinns More than 1 year ago
    A special thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Jennifer Hillier’s THE BUTCHER, is by far the most evil suspense psychological thriller—hooking you from the front cover, keeping you entranced until the last word. You then look up and say, “Wow, what just happened here?” No, he didn't. This is one twisted and sick guy . OMG! • First, the front cover is stunning – drawing you into this intriguing, sick, twisted, psychological mind • Second, the publisher’s summary was right on—a book I want to read! • Third, the story; THE BUTCHER was totally epic in every way. What a chilling ride – Fast-paced, heart pounding, suspenseful, holding your breath to see what would come next. • Last, but not least – The author: Jennifer Hillier, what an imagination! She masterfully crafts each of the characters, with a unique cleverly twisted plot-Brilliant! In 1985 Captain Edward Shank of the Seattle PD made his reputation and a name for himself in this town, by apprehending the Beacon Hill Butcher, a serial killer who terrorized the Pacific Northwest. Everyone was grateful to Shank and his team, as most of the victims were young teenage girls. Flash forward thirty years and now Edward Shank is retired, a widower and transitioning his life into a retirement village—giving his home in the center of Sweetbay, one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, and also one of the most desirable—to his only heir, his grandson, Matt. Now eighty years old, bored, with a bad hip, arthritis, he spends his days playing checkers, dreaming of the good ole days, and watching TV—his days of glory are long gone. Matt, his grandson, an award-winning chef, owns the most successful restaurant in Seattle with recipes from his beloved grandmother (Iola), who is deceased. In addition to his famous restaurant, Adobo, he operates gourmet food trucks and now has gained attention of a Fresh Food Network TV show. Matt inherited his grandfather’s height, build, and personality, but his love for food and cooking was all from his grandmother. With all his fame, and work, Matt is stressed, self-centered, ambitious, hot tempered, and has anger management issues. There are three things Matt loves most in the world: Adobo, the Seahawks, and Samantha (last). Samantha (Sam), a writer of ‘true crime’ books with an interest of turning ‘The Butcher of Beacon Hill into her next venture, as she believes her mother was killed by THE BUTCHER, even though it was several years (1987) after he was killed. Soon after Matt moves in to his home, he begins renovations with the installation of a hot tub. The construction crew uncovers a locked crate. When he uncovers the contents of the crate, his life will never be the same. However, this is only the beginning of what lies ahead – a nightmare with twists and turns you do not see coming! What makes this novel so different than the normal run-of-the mill physiological chilling thrillers—-the human interest side; how Hillier masterfully intertwines realistic everyday characters –a chef, a writer, and an ex-police chief—a story which could happen to any of us. Taking readers inside the mind of one troubled and twisted man. Looking forward to reading Hillier’s previous novels, Creep and Freak! This is an author to follow—she is right up there with the best of them!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    One of the least enjoyable books I've read in this genre. With the secret beimg revealed relatively early in the book, there wasnt much suspense or twists to keep me on the edge ofmy seat. Sorry, but I thought this book really swumg and missed.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have enjoyed 3 of the books I read by this author but of the 3 this was my favorite because it really did not reveal the most sinister part of the plot until the very end. You don't want to stop reading until you get to the end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    First time I've read this author. May try more of her work ....
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I wasn't able to put this down at some points. I left off the fifth star because the ending wasn't so great.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Highly recommend this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    That's all I gotta say
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a good book with some good twists.
    Alexandria Whitehead More than 1 year ago
    This book was so engaging and suspenseful! You know who the killer is early on but it doesn't take the thrill away from the middle or the end of the book. Highly recommend!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Thrilling ride from beginning to end
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    valleyofthesun More than 1 year ago
    tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
    A series of murders take place in the Pacific Northwest with the same MO: the victims, mostly young girls, have been raped, tortured and their left hands chopped off. Finally, a task force headed by Captain Edward Shank (who later becomes chief of police) captures a man the call the Butcher, shooting him when he resists arrest. Now years later, similar murders appear, setting the stage for an eerie story involving Shank, his successful restaurateur grandson, Matthew, and Matt’s girlfriend, Samantha (“Sam”), who is in the midst of writing a book on The Butcher and her theory that he killed her mother, despite the fact the her death occurred two years after the death of the supposed killer. The novel is a thriller of the first order, fast-paced and with lots of clues to keep the reader involved. But these hints don’t give away the unforeseen conclusion. One cavil: There are some mushy love scenes which slow down the narrative and can be skipped. Nonetheless, the novel is recommended.
    reececo331 More than 1 year ago
    The Butcher  by Jennifer Hillier This is a dark look into the mind of a killer. Captain Edward Shank, made a name for himself with the bust of the Butcher of Beacon Bill. The dramatic death of Rufus Wedge, gave his carrier a boost, he became Chief of Police in Seattle. His live was good, only problem was his dark secrete and the urges he could not ignore.  The Butcher a notorious serial killer that unsettled the Washington area from the 70’s until Rufus Wedge’s death in April of 1985 was the fire that kept the police on their toes. Now retired and a resent widower, ‘Chief’ Edward Shank, is giving his house to his grandson and moving into the local retirement home.  Matt Shank, is a rising star in the food industry of Seattle, Washington. His restaurant Adobo is the one of the top restaurants in the area. His food trucks serving Pilipino fare is a hit. Now he is being offered a reality TV show on the Fresh Network.  Armed with his Lola’s recipes, his killer drive, and his aggressive need to succeed he has everything going his way.  Samantha, is a successful writer, her books on true crime have given her a comfortable life. Her relationship with Matt could be better. Since her introduction by her best friend Jason, she has come to accept that there are things that Matt can do, and things he will not do. His work is his life. Okay by Sam, she has her own obsessions, like finding out who killed her mother.   The suspense and drama of the book left the reader on edge. There were many times I could see that this book could have turned out another way. But the ending was unexpected but fulfilling in its own way.