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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly his best yet
Be aware that this is not a Fatman and Boy Wonder novel but a stand-alone which in its way is very different from anything this ever versatile writer has tried before. Is it any good? Oh dear me yes! Will it disappoint any of his devoted followers? I doubt it, even though it's set largely in his native Cumbria rather than Yorkshire and involves few policemen. I enjoyed it...
Published on 3 July 2010 by Jeff

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First 500 pages great - then the ending lets it down
As I say in my title, I was gripped for the first 500 pages or so then the plot and the believeability began to unravel a lot. There are monstrous holes in the plot and many of the characters become parodies of themselves but my main niggle is the set piece ending which stretches credulity too far and is quite frankly laughable. I feel really annoyed by this book to be...
Published on 14 Aug 2011 by Big Jim


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly his best yet, 3 July 2010
By 
Jeff "roadrunner" (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Be aware that this is not a Fatman and Boy Wonder novel but a stand-alone which in its way is very different from anything this ever versatile writer has tried before. Is it any good? Oh dear me yes! Will it disappoint any of his devoted followers? I doubt it, even though it's set largely in his native Cumbria rather than Yorkshire and involves few policemen. I enjoyed it immensely. It has so many strands - is it a moral tale, a take on our selfish society; is it a tongue-in-cheek fairy story [ Wolf {sic}; cottage in the woods; little blonde haired girl]; a thinly-disguised acerbic comment on the sometimes amoral landed classes, whether here or in Russia and so on. I liked so much about it, not least his descriptions of the wilder parts of the Lake District. Some of the writing is awesome - the moonlit winter countryside around Wolf's farm and the touch of that other famous Cumbrian, William Wordsworth, when on the bleakly beautiful Wastwater. And as for Pillar Rock, what can I say?! Believe me, if you've never been there, no ordinary mortal would consider it without a rope and as for certain activities at the top - well, uncomfortable and scary are words that come to mind! I liked the character of Wolf [loved the phone call from the Courts!!!] but Imogen perhaps from the start doesn't come across as particularly likeable. Even with her, Hill can't keep humour away "only two things would keep her awake - sex and toothache" but the best character I have to say is probably the dog. I defy you to disagree!
Thoroughly recommended; best book I've read for some time.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, 28 Feb 2011
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This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
One of Hill's early non-Dalziel and Pascoe novels was called "The Long Kill". It's the only one I ever read that dropped a star. The sex was embarrassingly clinical, the fight scenes implausibly long, and the denouement disappointingly predictable. So why mention it now?

Well I think Hill himself might have been less than satisfied with it. Because some of the themes in "The Long Kill" are reprised in "The Woodcutter". And this time he's got it absolutely right. I can't imagine reading a better book this year, and it gave me more pleasure than anything I've read for the past few years - including the best D & P novels. It has drive, tension, wit, compassion (who else could evoke sympathy for a man in the Woodcutter's profession
(and we're not talking forestry here!)?)

So if, like me, you read "The Long Kill" on the strength of his more mature works, ignorant of the inevitable fact that even Hill nods, get "The Woodcutter". Buy it in hardback. And be careful who you lend it to.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and intelligent thriller with modern themes, 27 Jun 2010
By 
Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
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I must admit to not having read any of the author's other work - but part of the fun of Vine is being able to access new authors (to me) without any expectations.

This is a very well written, tightly plotted thriller. The main character is mightily flawed, but is still someone you would like to meet (if a bit nervously). The other characters are well drawn, from the good guys to the bad - and there are some amusing touches as well.

The story concerns a self-made millionaire who falls foul of a number of his acquaintances... and ends up in prison for a crime he did not commit. The author brings in some very recent themes (the book is set in 2010 or thereabouts) and we come across paedophilia and the recent economic crash and recession.

Some delightful description of Cumbria and the relationship between Man and Dog (or probably, Wolf and Wolf) help to fill out the main fast-paced tale. Much of it is told in flash-backs as the alleged criminal is taken back through his life by his psychiatrist. These parts of the story are crucial to the tale, and it is intriguing to watch as the psychiatrist picks out the truth from the fiction...

As they say "All's well, that well ends?" or something along those lines...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First 500 pages great - then the ending lets it down, 14 Aug 2011
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Paperback)
As I say in my title, I was gripped for the first 500 pages or so then the plot and the believeability began to unravel a lot. There are monstrous holes in the plot and many of the characters become parodies of themselves but my main niggle is the set piece ending which stretches credulity too far and is quite frankly laughable. I feel really annoyed by this book to be honest as the majority of it is so, so good yet the ending lets it down too much. I think Mr Hill has tried too hard to make a very good plot fit into his beloved and beautifully described Lake District and rather like a runner who sets off too quickly in a race, has "hit the wall" before the end and struggled over the finishing line. What a shame.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining Holiday Read, 3 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
I had never read anything by Reginald Hill before and I was thoroughly entertained by this mystery thriller set in England between 2008 and 2018. The fact that part of the book is set in the future is purely to have the financial crisis of 2008 as the start point and the subsequent events need a number of years to pan out and so do not get put off if you do not like science fiction. The initial setting centres on Wolf (Sir Wilfred Hadda) who in 2008 is framed on both Child Pornography and Fraud charges. Wolf is a fascinating enigmatic character and carries the readers interest. This easy to read action packed thriller is very contemporary and mixes a variety of intriguing characters from the bright young psychiatrist Elf(Alva), the Glaswegian private detective Davy McLucky, the haughty Aristocratic Kira, the suave highly succeessful lawyer Toby and the mysterious JC (and, as another reviewer has mentioned, the devilishly fiendish dog Sneck). The humorous banter between the young vicar Hollins and Wolf I found especially endearing and humanised Wolf who otherwise seemed like a modern day Superman. My one and significant quibble was the preposterous events on Pillar Rock at the end where Reginald Hill's imagination took so many twists that it made it all seem too farcical.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A national treasure, 8 Aug 2010
By 
K. Davies "Lagavulinlad" (Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
Reginald Hill is one of the finest writers around, his Dalziel and Pascoe books are always first class, but it's always a refreshing change when he does a stand alone novel. His last "The Stranger House" was a masterpiece and this "The Woodcutter" is of the same standard. Hill uses words like an artist uses paint, he layers his novels and conjures up characters and scenery that you can almost reach out and touch.
The main character Wolf is far from being a conventional hero, he is dangerous and some of his actions could be construed as being beyond the law. The plot unwinds towards a terrific twist in the tale that you are unlikely to see coming.
I think Mr Hill does'nt look favourably on our upper classes, they all appear morally vacuous and live their lives above the law which they seem to think only applies to the lower order. I dont know any upper class people personally so I cant judge if this is accurate or not, but what you read in the tabloids tends to support Mr Hills rather jaundiced view of our so called ruling class.
I would recommend this book wholeheartedly, but do have a dictionary close to hand. You will definately come across several words that you will struggle to know the meaning of. Reginald Hill has a vocabulary that would stretch the most erudite readers. I love coming across words that I have never seen before. The guy is an absolute genius. Long may he entertain and with his wonderful imagination and faultless prose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lakeland Hill, 9 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
If there's a more dependable British novelist alive today, I don't know who it is. Most writers seem to have their off-days - and William Boyd and Ian Rankin, normally among my favourites, have had a few lately - but Reg Hill churns out a new book every 18 months or so, of consistently high quality whatever the genre. ("Churns out" is the wrong term. I'm sure he puts a lot of work into his research and his writing, but he wears his learning very lightly.)

This novel started a little slowly for my taste, but I took the last 350 pages at a single sitting. Who needs food or drink when you've got a book of this quality to keep you going?

I sometimes amuse myself by imagining who would be the ideal guests to have to dinner. Reginald Hill wouldn't qualify - not because I wouldn't love to meet him, and hear more of his gentle wit, but because I wouldn't want to steal even five minutes of writing time from his next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the mysteries of Mosedale, 5 Aug 2011
By 
covergirl14 (Nottinghamshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
I've never read a Reginald Hill novel, as usual picking this up in desperation as the second choice in a Buy One, Get One Half Price thing. To say I was delighted is an understatement.
No understatement in this novel, however - Hill's greatest skill seems to be in his fantastic characterisation, which drives the novel along. No stone is left unturned as regards to motive, passion, relationships, emotion. You'll need to keep a dictionary handy - Hill's vocabulary is awe-inspiring - but never once did I think, 'Oh, just get on with it.'
If you love the wilder side of the Lakes - Wasdale and Mosedale in particular - you'll be able to picture exactly where the action is, such is Hill's talent for painting a picture in text. I've trodden that path up to Black Sail dozens of times so this novel felt like I'd written it myself! The mythical, mystical fairy-tale aspect of the novel, with its Nordic overtones, fits in with this wild part of the world perfectly.
I loved the deeply flawed character of Wolf, as I can't stand 'perfect' heroes, of which there are far too many in this genre. Alva is a spirited and unusual heroine, and the pyschology didn't feel or sound like mumbo-jumbo; the mysterious JC is another well-developed character, and the Reverend Luke Hollins is great (as is Sneck!)
Only a couple of flaws in this novel; the over-enthusiastic use of the exclamation mark (Peter James does this too - maybe they both attended the same Writing Course) - which does not always inject humour as intended, but does tend to annoy the reader. Also, the character of Lady Kira drove me up the wall. She's far too one-dimensional and cliched - surely not all aristocrats are ice-queens? I get the impression Hill isn't too impressed with the upper classes, but I've met a few, and while they may well snigger behind my back for all I know, I've never met anyone with such publicly bad manners as Lady Kira. You wouldn't get away with that in Cumbria - she'd have ended up being socked in the nose. I didn't believe for one moment that the final scenario would have affected her in the way it did - there was just not enough light and shade in her character.
All in all, a fantastic book which kept me hooked for three days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 Aug 2010
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Reginald Hill is an excellent writer, but The Woodcutter is an extremely poor book by his standards of old. The characters are two-dimensional, less than credible, and the plot is preposterous. I can happily suspend disbelief if the writing sweeps me along or the plot is gripping or the main character utterly engaging, but none of those things are true here.
Every character has a ridiculous name. The opening prologue (well, one of them; this book has a half a dozen beginnings) depends upon the reader getting an obscure Latin pun to make sense of the action. That's making your readers feel dumb, and I didn't appreciate it. The feisty female lead suffers from both a ridiculous name and an unlikely set of physical characteristics, and behaves like an idiot. The policemen are flatfoots and the professional spies are incompetent. I really can't believe that SIS (or MI5 or whoever) would be so hopeless as to let an operative be imprisoned on trumped up charges as the plot suggests. Even the drug dealers are third-rate; they're like caricatures, not plausible people.
The Woodcutter feels like an awkward attempt to blend a modern, punchy thriller with the world of Midsummer Murders or Agatha Christie. The result was a dismally plodding plot with all manner of unlikely events piling up on top of each other. I struggled to the end, but kinda wish I hadn't. This novel feels like an uncomfortable juxtaposition of olde world spy story a la original Le Carre or Graham Greene, cut-n-shut with a contemporary plotline involving child pornography and righteous revenge. None of it worked for me.
I really enjoyed Hill's early Dalziel and Pascoe novels, but I'll give his next one a miss.
3/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read., 23 Aug 2010
By 
Clashcity Rocker "Clashcity Rocker" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Woodcutter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not familiar with this author, but I understand he has been around for a while :-). I had however heard of his previous work, Dalziel/Pascoe from the box. Took a punt on this book, and it was a very good choice, gripping from the word go and not really letting up. My measure of a great book is one you can't put down and end up reading 'till the early hours. This one fell into that category.

I'm sure if you are familiar with Hill, you will just be buying this, and not reading reviews from some newbie, but if you are not and looking for something new to explore this would be a very good starting point.
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The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
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