The Butcher and the Wren

A Novel

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Pub Date 13 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 16 Sep 2022

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From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail of victims leads

Something dark is lurking in the Louisiana bayou: a methodical killer with a penchant for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

But forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historical crimes, and years of experience working in the Medical Examiner's office, she's never encountered a case she couldn't solve. Until now. Case after case is piling up on Wren's examination table, and soon she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase with a brutal murderer getting more brazen by the day.

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

From the co-host of chart-topping true crime podcast Morbid, a thrilling debut novel told from the dueling perspectives of a notorious serial killer and the medical examiner following where his trail...

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ISBN 9781638930143
PRICE $27.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 34 members

Featured Reviews

This was one of the absolute best reads I’ve had in awhile. Disturbing, but full of twists and incredible writing. I will definitely be recommending this book to patrons long before it’s even released! 5 stars 100%

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As a listener of the Morbid Podcast I was so excited about this book. Let me tell you it is a fast read only because it grips you as soon as you start reading. It is full of twists and turns that leave you stunned and waiting with baited breath for what comes next. The author's clear knowledge of crime scenes and knowledge of true crime lets her weave details together in such a fantastic way!

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As a huge fan of the MOrbod podcast, I was so excited to read this book. And it did NOT dissapoint! If it was already known, Alaina is a wonderful storyteller and her debut novel falls nothing short of amazing. Cannot wait to read more novels by her. Easy FIVE stars.

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Thank you SO much to NetGalley, Zando publishing and affiliates for providing me early access to this read. I finished it on April 7th and am finally getting around to submitting my honest review. I am a mega fan of Morbid and have been since close to when Ash & Alaina began their podcast journey. I was so beyond stoked to read this and I absolutely adored it. For someone who reads mostly romance novels and fiction books, Alaina inspired me to read a horror novel and she did not disappoint! I absolutely love Wren, the way Alaina so eloquently told her story, and the thoughtfulness poured into this whole book. After that ending, I’m REALLY hoping we get a follow up book ASAP. Until then, keep it weird!!!! 🖤

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Finally! A suspenseful true crime novel that pulled me in and didn't let go. This was a quick read, and I was pleased to find it contained no swearing or sex. There were graphic descriptions of violence, however.

As a proud Weirdo, I was so excited to have the chance to read this novel from one of my favorite podcasters, and it did not disappoint. I cannot wait to read what happens to Wren and the gang.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advanced ebook copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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As a long time listener of Morbid, I was so excited that I got an ARC of The Butcher and the Wren! Alaina has been talking about the process of writing this book for years. She put so much hard work and research into creating this story and it is obvious how much care was put into this book. Alaina’s experience as an Autopsy Tech brings so much to the story and brings a lot of realism to the plot. I was sucked into this book from start to finish. I could not put it down until I knew what happened at the end. This is such a good start of Alaina’s writing journey and I can’t wait to see what comes next! Even if you haven’t listened to Morbid and you’re a fan of thrillers, you’ll enjoy this book.

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As a huge fan of the Morbid podcast I was already inclined to love this just because I'm so proud of Alaina, but I was also genuinely impressed by the quality of writing and the imagination on display here.

Some of the sentences are so beautifully and intricately constructed they sound like poetry. Alaina is able to simultaneously give believable voice to a cold, calculating, rage-filled, torturous serial killer and a smart, determined, eminently capable forensic pathologist. Her two real-life careers as an autopsy technician and the host of a true crime podcast allow her to infuse both sides of the story with a feeling of authenticity that draws you into their world.

Part one does have an eerie feeling of incongruousness that can make a reader feel as though something is off (y'know, besides all the abductions and murders) but there is a twist that explains that feeling and makes everything come together as you enter part two, and allows you to look back at part one with fresh eyes and make more sense of it all. Part two wraps up somewhat abruptly and with a conclusion that may not leave everybody satisfied, especially if you're used to every book putting everything together in a neat little bow at the end. But it clearly leaves the door open for more books going forward, which I greatly look forward to devouring as quickly as I sped through this one.

There were some small proofing details that still need to be corrected before the final edition in September, but the story itself is solid and I can easily see Wren Muller becoming a well-known and well-loved series character in the thriller genre.

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I’m so excited to be reviewing this book as a fan of Morbid, the true crime podcast that the author co-hosts. I was not at all surprised when Alaina announced that she had written a book. She is very smart, super passionate, and is always popping in with some colorful language, so I have been excited to get my hands on this book. Based on the writing alone, I wouldn’t guess that this is her first novel. I am very impressed with how the language is used in a way to paint a clear picture of the scene and all the emotions in it.
The book is written from two different perspectives: a serial killer, and a medical examiner. Each tells their story one chapter at a time as you watch the story play out.
I found this premise really fun and interesting, but I think it made it harder to get good character development out of both main characters. It seems like you end up getting way more out of The Butcher and his motivations, which is a fun twist from the usual. However, I just think Wren is a really dynamic character and I could totally see this book turning into a long-running procedural series, if that character was able to shine. I almost never say this, but I just think this book needed to be longer to get those characters really fleshed out and ramp up that suspense.

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There is nothing Alaina can say or write, that I won't read or listen. I absolutely love her storytelling ability on Morbid which is why I requested this book. Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is an alternating story between Jeremy--the Butcher, a serial killer and Dr. Wren Muller--a forensic pathologist. Set in the Louisiana bayou, Dr. Muller is seeing cases come into her office that she has never seen before. The bodies seem to have clues and those clues are leading to the next body. With her colleagues (police detectives and others in the forensics office), Wren tries to stay one step ahead of Jeremy but can she stop him before she becomes the next victim?

Things I liked about this book:
◉ the scene: I think she did a really great job of describing the areas of Louisiana. I could truly picture them in my mind.
◉ the alternating view points: usually you find out who did it at the end but this time, they essentially tell you the person in the beginning and you learn more about him as you go along.
◉ Wren: I didn't necessarily like her but I did like that she was a strong woman and a forensic pathologist, not a police detective.
◉ The twist at the end

Things I didn't like about this book:
◉ the alternating view points: yes, I just said that I liked that but I also disliked it. Because we learn about him as we go along, there was no real character surprise at the end like other books.
◉ the writing: to be honest, I don't think it was well written. For such a storyteller, I just don't think it was well done. I truly, truly believe if she continues (warning, left a cliffhanger), that each one will be better and better.
◉ It was a little too slow-paced for me. I put it down multiple times because it really wasn't that interesting to me. It likely is me and how many mysteries and suspense I have read but some parts were just super slow.

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I was super excited to read this book! I'm a huge fan of Alaina's and Morbid. I was not disappointed! For fans of Morbid, you'll recognize Alaina's knowledge of autopsies and medical examinations, while also appreciating her knowledge of serial killers and their crimes. If you are lucky enough to pick this book up randomly, you won't be disappointed: no knowledge of the podcast or the author is necessary to enjoy this book.

If you're a fan of Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series, especially the early novels, you'll enjoy this story.

What Worked:
There's a pretty solid narrative. The chapters alternate POV between Wren, the protagonist, and Jeremy, the antagonist. (Let me also just say, reading Jeremy's chapters made me wince at times - which is a credit to the writer. The details and inner monologue were truly terrifying.).

Just when you thought there wasn't going to be any major twist, BAM! one shows up. And it makes the entire book make sense. The twist also leaves for great character development.

The characters are well developed. If this would turn into a series (please Zando!), there's a lot of room to dive into them more individually.

What Needs Work:
Alaina is a first-time author and the press that published this book is smaller. As I was reading, there were several times I felt myself thinking, "this is definitely her first book." And that's not a bad thing! I do think that Alaina's skill will definitely improve with each book she (hopefully) publishes, and I'm excited to see her grow as a writer.

I'm not sure if it was because this is an ARC or not, but there were a few spots of inconsistency. This is mostly on the editor, not the writer. Hopefully with the published version in September, these will be cleaned up.

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I will admit that I am a little biased because I love love love Alaina Urquhart and her podcast(s). This book did not disappoint! Her expertise in anatomy as an autopsy tech, and her many hours of research into true crime created an incredible story. The setting, New Orleans, Louisiana is also perfect for this type of story. Looking forward to pub day and to hearing more from Alaina!

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