2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · new release · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Title: The Butcher and the Wren

Author: Alaina Urquhart

Published: September 20th 2022

Publisher: Michael Joseph – Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 256

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

An addictive and chilling debut thriller from the co-host of True Crime podcast Morbid

In the Louisiana bayou, a methodical killer with a taste for medical experimentation is hard at work completing his most harrowing crime yet, taunting the authorities who desperately try to catch up.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Wren Muller is the best there is. Armed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of historical crimes and years of experience, she’s never encountered a case she couldn’t solve.

Until now.

As case after case lands on Wren’s examination table, she is sucked into an all-consuming cat-and-mouse chase?- on the tail of a brutal murderer, getting more brazen by the day…


Boston based author Alaina Urquhart is the co-host of the extremely popular true crime podcast Morbid. Urquhart’s first novel is The Butcher and the Wren, a tit for tat crime novel between a deranged killer and an astute forensic pathologist. Chilling, exciting, tense and tight, The Butcher and Wren is a tale that will appeal to true crime podcast listeners.

A meticulous killer with a thirst for medical experimentation activities on his victims is operating in the Louisiana bayou district. Taking down his victims and performing horrendous acts on their bodies, this sadistic killer has managed to evade capture from the authorities. A determined and highly adept forensic pathologist named Wren is hot on this killer’s tail. Dr Wren has a wealth of experience and knowledge about this killer’s signature style. Wren is also committed to cracking this difficult case. But when the body count rises, it seems as though the killer has managed to get away with his heinous crimes. Will Wren manage to capture this monstrous killer and put a stop to his crime spree?

Like many of us, I’m a fan of true crime podcasts. The author of The Butcher and Wren is the co-host of a popular crime podcast called Morbid. I personally haven’t listened to this particular podcast but my husband rates it. This fact definitely attracted me to Urquhart’s debut novel, as The Butcher and the Wren arrived quite unexpectedly in my mailbox as a gift from the publisher. I was keen to give Urquhart’s debut a shot, as the synopsis was very intriguing.

The Butcher and Wren is told concurrently from the perspectives of the killer and the woman charged with the extremely challenging task of trying to capture him. I found each voice convincing and the killer’s perspective was incredibly chilling. This one will undoubtedly send shivers down your spine. The content is often hard to swallow, especially in regards to the medical acts performed on the victims. If you are squeamish, you will need to approach this one with care. The murder scenes were quite gruesome and shocking, clearly reminding the audience that the butcher is a sadistic mastermind. The victims are portrayed clearly, along with the side characters. However, I will be honest and say that I found Wren to be quite the enigma. I felt that Urquhart could have expanded her role more and her background could also have been extended further. The shorter length of this novel does mean that some depth was missing from Urquhart’s debut. The quick chapters and a sharp sentence structure helps to make The Butcher and Wren a page turner. A hooking ending and a mid-point twist all combine to make this one a decent serial killer offering.

The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart was published on 20th September 2022 by Michael Joseph – Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

Learn more about the author of The Butcher and the Wren, Alaina Urquhart, here.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.


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