Book Reviews: The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill, The Dog Sox by Russell Hill and Negative Image by Vicki Delany

The Woodcutter
Reginald Hill
Harper, August2011
ISBN No. 978-0062060747
Hardcover

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 Cumbria 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.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, August 2011.

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The Dog Sox
Russell Hill
Caravel Books, April 2011
ISBN No. 978-1929355747
Trade Paperback

Ray Adams has a different approach when he buys a gift for his girl friend Ava Belle. Ava loves dogs and baseball so Ray buys her a baseball team.  The team is named The Knight’s Landing Dog Sox.  The team’s manager is a 70-year old Jewish man who has a number of colorful phrases that he repeats from time to time.  He is quite an interesting character and is determined to turn the team into the best team possible.

The team consists of players from different occupations and includes one very special pitcher, Billy Collins.  Billy has a drunken and abusive father who disrupts Billy’s life and threatens his success.  Ray and the team’s manager are determined to figure out a way to rid Billy of this problem.

The team has a unique refreshment stand and quite an interesting fire works display.  There are laugh at loud incidents in The Dog Sox.

The Knight’s Landing Dog Sox is top priority for Ray and Ava and the interaction of the team members makes for good reading.  The book is short but a great read and one that you won’t soon forget.

Russell Hill is the author of The Lord God Bird and if you have not read it you’ve missed a great book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April, 2011.

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Negative Image
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen Press, 2010
ISBN No. 978-1590587904
Trade Paperback

Rudolph Steiner is a famed photographer whose career is sliding downhill.  When Steiner visits Trafalgar in British Columbia along with his wife Josie and his assistant Diane Barton, life suddenly becomes unsettled for Constable Molly Smith.

Steiner’s body is discovered in the bathroom of his hotel room.  Investigation proves that Eliza Winters was a visitor to Steiner’s room just before the murder.  Eliza is the wife of John Winters, Molly’s boss and mentor.  Eliza is a model and formerly worked with Steiner.  Eliza becomes a suspect in the murder and her husband is banned from the investigation.

There have been a series of breaking and entering in Trafalgar and no suspects have been discovered.  Since Winters can’t be involved in the murder investigation, he decides to devote his time to solving the breaking and entering crimes.  Winters enlists Molly to do a door-to-door investigation of the neighborhoods where the crimes occurred.

Molly has been seeing Adam Tocek of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and is having some issues with Adam’s attempts to protect her reputation.  Molly is not only concerned about her relationship with Adam but Charlie Bassing has begun stalking Molly.  Molly helped send Charlie to jail when Charlie attacked Molly’s best friend.  Molly is keeping a record of the incidents that involve Charlie Bassing but hasn’t confided her fears either to Adam or her fellow workers.

To add to Molly’s problems, her dad falls and breaks his hip.  Molly has the added worry of her father’s health but she’s also quite concerned with the way her mother, who usually takes everything in stride, is handling her dad’s hospitalization.

Negative Image is the fourth book in the Constable Molly Smith series.  It is not necessary to read the previous books in order to enjoy Negative Image, get a real feel for life in Trafalgar, and meet the great characters that Delany has created.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2011.

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