I’m Calling It: This Is the Standout Thriller Book of 2022

it's from the host of a cult-favorite podcast

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Source: @yuki.reads

As an avid reader, I always find myself coming back to thriller novels. Call it morbid curiosity, but there’s something fascinating about stories involving crime, murder, or dark forces. I may sound unhinged, but I know I can’t be the only one who always reaches for the newest thriller novel. That’s why I’m so excited to share that I have found one of the best thriller novels of the year: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart. 

When I heard that one of the hosts of my favorite podcast, Morbid: A True Crime Podcast, was working on her first fiction novel, I hit pre-order faster than you can say “thriller.” Alaina Urquhart is extremely impressive. She is an autopsy technician by day and the host of three different podcasts. Additionally, she’s a mother of three and, apparently, a writer. I knew her career background would likely play into her writing, and I’m happy it did that in the very best way. Needless to say, I had high expectations for this novel. And I am thrilled to report that it did not disappoint. You’re going to want to get your hands on this book as soon as possible. Here’s why The Butcher and the Wren is one of the best thriller novels I’ve read all year:

 

Alaina Urquhart

The Butcher and the Wren

In this fast-paced thriller novel, a horrific serial killer known as the Bayou Butcher has a hankering for hunting and dismembering his victims. And he's terrorizing the city of New Orleans. Forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller and her team are set to take him down once and for all. That is until the Butcher sets his sights on Wren.

 

The plot

Of all the books I’ve read this year, The Butcher and the Wren is the most creative story of them all. Yet, it’s not too out there that it’s unbelievable. For years, the lively and eccentric city of New Orleans has fell victim to one of the most heinous serial killers to date: the Bayou Butcher.

A lifelong hunter, the Butcher, has taken a page (literally) from The Most Dangerous Game. He has crafted haunting grounds in his own backyard. Animals are the last things he’ll be hunting, though. He prefers human prey. Medical examiner, Wren Muller, has a unique connection to the Butcher that she must recount in order to save his latest victims and bring him to justice. As you read on, you’ll begin to see parallels between the villain and the heroine. And if you’re a fan of the “final girls” trope, this is the book for you. 

As much as I can appreciate a slow burn to my thriller novels, Urquhart wastes no time introducing readers to our sinister assailant. The story goes back and forth between the point of view of the Butcher, Wren, and victim accounts. Each provides a unique perspective of the events unfolding. During the Butcher’s chapters, you are given a glimpse into the deprived thoughts and feelings of a killer. I had not previously experienced this while reading a fiction novel.

 

Alaina’s unique perspective

As an autopsy technician, Alaina is able to share a unique perspective on decomposition, the human body, and procedural processes straight from the morgue. Her technical background is portrayed throughout the writing. Plus, the specific details she can include from a firsthand account make you feel like you’re right next to Wren as she examines corpses. 

When she’s not in the morgue, Alaina is researching horrific true crime cases to cover on her chart-topping podcast, Morbid. As someone who has spent many hours researching the motivations, upbringings, and crimes of some of history’s most prolific serial killers like BTK, Jeffery Dahmer, and Israel Keyes, Alaina was able to craft a monster as I’ve never seen before. Having been designed based on the inner workings of some of the world’s worst, the Butcher holds the unique characteristics of a particularly heinous serial killer.

 

 

A setting that is to die for

There’s nothing I love more than when the setting of the story just feels right. What’s Sex and the City without New York? And I’m certain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would be very different if it didn’t take place on the Mississippi River. In some of my favorite literary pieces, the setting is a character in itself. The Butcher and the Wren had to take place in New Orleans because of the unique history of the city. The depths of the Louisiana bayou were seamless and necessary aspects of the plot. 

Throughout the entirety of the story, you could feel the bayou almost helping the Butcher wreak his havoc. When he places his distressed victims in the expansive bayou to be hunted, the vast darkness, unidentifiable creatures, and deafening sounds of nature play to his advantage. It disorients his targets. Likewise, the energetic and eccentric city becomes the perfect hideaway for him to go unidentified for so long.

 

The crazy plot twist

Eventually, you learn that the Butcher and Wren have a connection—one that is so strong it almost makes her give up on the case entirely. Through their connection, the Butcher eventually makes Wren his targeted victim. He stalks her and watches her every move. Then, he calculates the best way to take her out. I won’t give away any spoilers, but when you find out how the two are linked, your jaw will hit the floor. For the rest of the book, you’ll be on the edge of your seat praying for Wren’s safety. 

 

Final thoughts 

To me, the perfect thriller novel includes a few aspects: graphic scenes, the use of imagery placing you in the story, and a creative spin on common themes. The Butcher and the Wren provides all of this and more. From the first chapter, where Urquhart details the Butcher’s wicked practices in his dark basement, to the final scenes, I was hooked. If you’ve found yourself constantly turning on the latest true crime documentaries, hitting “add to cart” on all of the latest thriller and horror novels, or religiously listening to true crime podcasts, I highly recommend you grab a copy of The Butcher and the Wren today.

 

Alaina Urquhart

The Butcher and the Wren

In this fast-paced thriller novel, a horrific serial killer known as the Bayou Butcher has a hankering for hunting and dismembering his victims. And he's terrorizing the city of New Orleans. Forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller and her team are set to take him down once and for all. That is until the Butcher sets his sights on Wren.

 

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