The Butcher

The Butcher

by Jennifer Hillier

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

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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 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).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476734231
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 402,863
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Hillier is the author of Wonderland, 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

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.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Butcher 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 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!!!!
    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.
    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
    Best to get your bills, dinner cooked, before you get on this thrilling ride! I am so excited to know that there is another excellent serial killer, writer! John Lutz, an excellent serial killer, writer, has not written a serial killer, novel, in a long time! He has been my favorite thiller writer, for years! I am so excited, to have found Jennifer Hillier! I am going to read all of her novels, as she is an excellent writer! My husband is a disabled vet, and I am his primary care giver. I have always loved a really good book, to take my mind on an an exciting, adventure! Please keep on writing, these exciting thriilers, I love'em!
    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
    Just what I was looking for. Dark page Turner.
    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
    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
    Great writing style. Captured my interest immediately and kept it fully until the end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great book. Easy read, but hard to put down. Each chapter is more exciting then the next.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    First book I've read by Jennifer Hillier and I'm hooked! This book is a little from other books, you find out who the killer is right away. I almost didn't purchase it after I read the sample because I thought what's the point if I know who the Killer is, but I'm happy I did. I could feel how tormented Matt was I was wrapped up in his emotions. I finish this book in two days-I couldn't put it down.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The typos I found were distracting to say the least. Also, her tendency to write a similar sentence or phrase in a following paragraph. Please, please edit, she can and will develop as a writer.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book in my opinion was awesome....kept me wanting to keep reading more. Going to try her other books too!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was outstanding !!!!!...have not read such a great story in a very long time..I read all top authors..the charecters storyline click from page one.and grip you..u literaly will not put this book down..I highly recommend this everyone..C.R.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Never heard of this author before, found the book by accident. OMG this is by far the best book I have read in a long time. Absolutely loved it. Stayed up 2 nights to finish it. Going to read her next one called CREEP.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I could not put it down! I give it a ten!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Good book a little too much jumping around in the history but overall well done.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Drew me right in! Bravo on keeping me on my toes and not wanting to put my book down on this rainy Sunday afternoon!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Would make a good movie