The Chopping Block is the second in the Grimm novels. Based on the TV show the story is set between the TV episodes “The Waking Dead” and “Goodnight, Sweet Grimm”. In other words; the grim is starting to ratchet up in Grimm.
I was actually a little surprised at how gory The Chopping Block got – in a good way. Give the nature of these crimes too much thought and they rather dig into your imagination.
The plot starts off as you might expect; father and son out having an adventure in the woods when they stumble upon a pile of bones. Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin step up to investigate. Of course, we have Wu on scene as well; being his typically useful self.
Readers will likely skip to the conclusion that Wesen are involved. It’s dangerous to make assumptions though. This isn’t a run of the mill story. Credit goes to author John Passarella for making us think as we start to tackle the unfolding events in his story. He also makes the police and allied Wesen use their brains too. There’s a surprising amount of police work in The Chopping Block. If Nick was just a Grimm and wasn’t a detective; I wonder how well he would do.
There’s a few more plots in the book too. We’ve got Juliette back in action, of sorts, and now ready to deal with issues at work. My favourite extra thread is with Monroe. Not only does our friendly werewolf have to try and help out an old friend but he may have a unique closeness to the wonderfully horrible events in the mystery.
You see; the first discovery of bones stripped of their flesh is just a start. Soon there’s another discovery. Someone is eating people. That’s tough if you’re a reformed Blutbad and the whole people-eating thing is part of your dark past that you’re trying to move on from.
I come to The Chopping Block as a fan of the TV show. I like the Wesen and the story tendency to introduce a new one or two per episode. I like the way one or two strong characteristics are used to define each Wesen sub-race. It’s a simple set up. As a result, I don’t find all the possible races in the Grimm universe confusing.
The Chopping Block doesn’t shy away from the Wesen rich history of the show. Right from the outset Nick and Hank are thinking about which Wesen types might fit the modus operandi of the woodland killer. I appreciate people who might have started on the books and are yet to catch up with the TV might struggle with the growing mythos. Fans shouldn’t.
Equally important is John Passarella’s willingness to go dialog heavy if needs be. There is plenty of action in The Chopping Block but there are also pages that are full of conversation between the characters. This is the benefit of having a novel series and TV showing hand in hand; they benefit equally from character development and once you care about the characters you care more about what they think.
Fan of Grimm like me? Give The Chopping Block and even John Shirley’s The Icy Touch ago (although I suspect you’ll enjoy The Chopping Block more). Already know you dislike the show? It’s hard to imagine that The Chopping Block will change your mind; it’s a good story but it leans heavily on the established characters.
Competition: When this review first went live our competition to win on of three copies of The Chopping Block is still open. Try your luck!
Disclaimer: My copy of The Chopping Block was provided for review. John Passarella, Titan Books, £7.99.