The Woodcutter: A Novel by Reginald Hill

The WoodcutterReviewed by Patricia Reid

Wilford Hadda began life as the son of a Cumbrian woodcutter on the Ulphingstone estate. Sir Leon Ulphingstone gave him the nickname of Wolf. At one stage in his life, Wolf Hadda held the title Sir Wilford Hadda.

Reginald Hill takes the reader through the various stages of the life of Wolf Hadda and Wolf has led a very interesting life. As a boy, he charmed Sir Leon’s daughter and left Cumbrian to earn his fortune. Wolf became a very wealthy man and returned to marry Imogene Ulphingstone. The couple had a daughter that Wolf doted on but one morning a knock on the door brought a screeching halt to Wolf’s charmed life.

The police entered his home with a search warrant and arrested Wolf. To say that Wolf was surprised by the visit would be putting it mildly. He did not take well to being pushed around by the Officer in charge and so Wolf decided to make his exit from the police station. Wolf wound up in a traffic accident that left him badly injured and in a coma. As he started to come out of the coma in the hospital, the only bright spot in the day was Davy McLucky, the man in charge of guarding his hotel room.

Wolf recovers from his injuries to find he has lost all of his money, his wife has left him and she is planning to marry his lawyer. Wolf is sentenced to a long term in prison and marked as a pedophile. When Alva Ozigbo the prison psychiatrist begins treating Wolf, he is reluctant to talk about his crimes. Wolf eventually opened up to her and she was convinced that he was rehabilitated and should be released from prison.

Once released Wolf went back to his childhood home and began to put his life back together. Although the locals were against Wolf even being in the neighborhood the local minister felt he should at least visit Wolf. After a few visits, the two men became friends. Alva also began to visit Wolf. The visitors were seeing a different man than the one that had been committed to prison for such horrible crimes. Did he actually commit the crimes he was accused of or was he set up in a complicated scheme to take the fall for others?

This stand-alone is an exciting and interesting book that keeps the reader guessing.

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