The last book I read in 100 words: The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

by Stephen Tall on October 17, 2011

The Woodcutter, Reginald Hill

I approached this book with some trepidation. I love Hill’s Dalziel & Pascoe series, but found his previous thriller The Stranger House disappointing. And when I realised this book was going to riff on The Count of Monte Cristo, a road already travelled (brilliantly) by Stephen Fry, I was nervous it would end up as pastiche.

Thankfully. I. Was. Wrong. There is a lot of Andy Dalziel in the protagonist, Sir Wolf Hadda, a fully-fleshed, implausible-but-compelling force of nature. A wealthy financier who Has It All, he suddenly loses everything — his wife, health and money — on contrived paedophilia and fraud charges.

How he puts his life back together, and the impact this has on those around him, is unveiled by Hill through a chopped-up, sharp-witted narrative of twist ‘n’ turns. And though we kinda know how it’ll end, the books suspends the suspense and keeps the thrills thrilling til the final page. A fantastic read.