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The Butcher and the Wren  By  cover art

The Butcher and the Wren

By: Alaina Urquhart
Narrated by: Sophie Amoss,Joe Knezevich
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Publisher's Summary

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

©2022 Alaina Urquhart (P)2022 Zando

What listeners say about The Butcher and the Wren

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There are so many mistakes about the setting.

I wonder if the author has ever been to New Orleans. There are no basements, no allies, jazz fest is not in the quarter and for crying out loud no one can be buried 6 feet down. The city is below sea level.

38 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I love the podcast Morbid, but struggled with this book. I tapped out on the deer scene - too graphic a description of animal suffering for me.


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25 people found this helpful

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Wanted it to be better

Hi. Not usually the review-type but my experience was not super represented in the review section for this novel and I wanted to throw my hat in the ring for any that might have felt the same way I did.

I am actually a listener of the podcast and am happy for Alaina releasing her first novel. Although I find myself drifting from the podcast slowly towards hosts that have some credentials in criminology or the like. However, I’m not reviewing the morbid podcast here or Alaina as a person- which seems to be what’s happening in most reviews of this book. I found the characters to be one-dimensional and I couldn’t get into caring about them. Jeremy himself is sort of a cliche amalgamation of characteristics a true crime fan would write a fictional killer to have. The attention to routine and lust for control were just not interesting enough for me. There were also some inconsistencies here though. Things like him mentioning a preference to kill with a knife but did most of his “dangerous game” with a pistol/shotgun.
I did however enjoy the mid-book twist but also wished that backstory of said twist would have been fleshed out a bit more. Why did wren stick around in nola? Why wasn’t her crawling out of the woods investigated properly? Why is the ME treated like a detective?
The rhetoric used throughout also kept pulling me out of the story. Not referring to the medical terminology- thought that was great. The big words Jeremy used in his portion were most likely meant to convey his intelligence/arrogance but sometimes it felt overdone at expense of the flow the plot.

18 people found this helpful

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Yikes

I was rooting for you (Alaina), we were all rooting for you. I love Morbid and Scream and wanted to love this book but it’s just not good. It reads like a bad cop procedural tv show, stereotypical and cringey at times. Very little detail on important things and so much detail on weird things that added nothing to the story. It was edited and written poorly with a meh story. I genuinely wish I did not use my audible credit on it but I’ll still listen to the podcast. Keep..it..weird. But not as weird as this book.

12 people found this helpful

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Was cautiously excited for this novel, and rightfully so.

First off, I am a longtime Morbid podcast listener and loyal fan of the show. Just from the impressions I get from the show, I personally think Alaina herself seems to be a great person who is actively TRYING to make the world a better place every day. She seems to be a great mama bear to her children, and I deeply admire her vocal, unabashed love for her husband John. I find her sibling-like relationship with her niece Ash both very wholesome and mutually supportive, and relatable since I am the Alaina to my sweet baby nephew’s Ash.
I say these things in case Alaina herself is reading this review—I just want her to know that my overall impression of her is very positive. I see her as a good person. And, importantly, although I wasn’t super wild about this book, reading it only earned me more respect for Alaina.
That all said, I wouldn’t have read/listened to/stuck with this book if I hadn’t already had a parasocial attachment to its author.
This isn’t to say that this is a bad book; just that it is her very first novel and it isn’t hard to tell. Generally, it’s kind of a fun book with a moderately interesting story. There are cliches and parts that made me cringe here and there throughout the book, and the ending felt very abrupt. When Alaina said in the interview at the end of this very audiobook that she had used what I know as the “Headlights” approach to writing this story—going along with your sudden burst of inspiration and letting the story tell itself through the author’s fingertips—that really made sense to me. I had, in fact, wondered if that may be the case a little ways into the book at a couple points. It just kind of gave a feeling every so often that maybe the author didn’t know exactly where this story was going, maybe didn’t really have a plan at all.
Overall, the story was a bit boring and a bit predictable. When the big reveal happened, I didn’t feel much besides, “Oh, okay, I see.” And with the story being relatively short, I as a reader felt sort of confused and disappointed by the abrupt ending. After the twist, the story really didn’t seem to have a satisfying climax before I started hearing the acknowledgments. If the book were longer and the stakes were higher, the ending might pack more of a punch. If I had been able to spend more time with the characters, it would’ve heightened my enjoyment immensely. Then again, writing a book is hard and takes a long time—especially for a mother of 3 youngins.
Last note: I know that New Orleans is a place with a very rich and distinct history and extremely interesting events, traditions, and cultures, but I do not understand why Alaina would choose to have her book be set in a place that she has never been to in person. ESPECIALLY a place like New Orleans. That just doesn’t make sense to me—it’s a real place where other real people live. How can you write about growing up in and living in a real place that you yourself have never even visited? I don’t think I would ever have the balls.
Now that I’ve gotten my grievances out of the way, I’d like to say that this book is written in a very lovely way. Alaina’s descriptions are intricate and often mesmerizing in ways. She’s a great writer. Alaina, you are a great writer. Just listening to the way she talks on the podcast, her descriptions, the little details she fixates on, you can tell that she could write a great book—and I still think she can. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about drawing is that before you learn how to draw the world around you, you have to learn how to see it. You have to learn how to notice. Although writing is a completely different medium, I think the general idea is the same. If you really notice the details in the world around you, it makes it a whole lot easier to describe them. Alaina notices.
Even if Alaina doesn’t read this review, I want to say that regardless of how mediocre I found this book, I’m really glad that she wrote it. I myself am an aspiring graphic novelist, and writing has been a huge source of relief for me ever since I was a child. It’s my dream to become an author as well. My biggest fear? Following through on the first book. For most authors, the first book is synonymous with being their worst book.
But, Alaina, you f***ing did it, dude. You wrote the book. You wrote the book and it’s not even bad. I hope that, like the other authors, your first book is also your worst. You are a badass and an inspiration to me and many others.
Never. stop. writing.
I will be waiting anxiously (as I do all things) for the next installment.

9 people found this helpful

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Already want more

Did I expect to power listen to this book, no. Here I am though done and already wanting more! This book was fantastic! Is it a bit of a rough listen sometimes? Sure, but I expected that and those moments weren’t dwelled on long enough to turn me off the book. Stunning job Alaina, but I’m gonna need you to write more asap. Please and thank you.

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t like the narrators. No need to worry the narrators did an amazing job.

6 people found this helpful

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Love

I bought this book to support Alaina, even tho it is a genre I don’t typically read. I knew it would be good because she is brilliant, but I didn’t expect to love it this much! The twists gave me goosebumps and the characters are so real. Hoping for many more novels from her!

5 people found this helpful

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So good, Alaina’s mind is wild

Even if you don’t listen to morbid weekly you’ll like this. I listened to it all in one day and just everything you want out of a serial killer / true crime etc book.

If you do listen to morbid podcast, then you can really understand every angle of where Alaina’s mind goes. And it’s fun.

5 people found this helpful

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Better than I dared imagine!

First off, I’m a HUGE fan of Morbid and I’ve been (im)patiently waiting to read this book since Alaina first mentioned working on it in an episode ages ago. Once pre-orders went live, I happily hit the buy button.
I knew I’d like the book, but I didn’t expect to burn through the audiobook in one day. (If you’re ever out shopping and wondering what the employee of the store you’re in is listening to on their AirPods when they’re supposed to be working? It just might be this.)
I’m just glad I was off work and back in my car when I reached That Moment in the middle, because I couldn’t stop myself from shouting back at the speakers.
It was so, so good. I can’t wait to read it again and I’m already dying for a sequel.
Thank you, Alaina for sharing this world with us.
Also, the bonus interview (hi Ash!) and deleted scenes in the audiobook were awesome!

5 people found this helpful

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Solid debut novel!

It was less than 7 hours and I was able to listen to this book in one session while at work and my morning commute. This was well written with good narration. The story was captivating and I didn't get bored of it at any point. I do believe perhaps the book could've been longer and gone deeper into the main protagonist's character and history a bit more though.

I look forward to future books.

4 people found this helpful

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  • John Thorn
  • 11-01-22

Fanfiction Style

Feels like something off of an internet forum written about Dexter, CSI or similar.

Performance of narrators seemed to take me out of it more.

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  • Clare
  • 10-01-22

Great Debut by a Morbid Author

I have been waiting with baited breath for the release of this debut novel. At release I was quite nervous about it not meeting my expectations, which were definitely unrealistically high.
I have to say though, it was a fantastic novel, I didn’t see the twist coming (which doesn’t happen often), well written and well thought out.
I was just sad it wasn’t longer!
The added bonus of the interview and deleted scenes was a lovely surprise, and I thought that the scenes would have fit perfectly in the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-30-22

Absolutely amazing!

I loved it so much! It was amazing, you just go so hook into it, wow! Highly recommended!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-23-22

Amazing, Hope there will bemore!!

Alaina is a superb writer, setting the scene perfectly. I found myself immersed and I hope this is not the end of the story!

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  • SARAH-LOUISE ALLEN
  • 09-20-22

Brilliant! 5 star review from me!!

Alaina, i am shook! You have written a brilliant book, and I can’t wait for the next instalment. As a lover of your podcast, I couldn’t wait to support you, as I just knew you would be a great author. You truly are super human - a mum, wife, sister, daughter in law, autopsy technician, a podcast host, an author. You go girl! 5 star review from me.

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  • jayde bloy
  • 09-18-22

Captivating!

Absolutely loved this gripping novel. I need to know more, I need a sequel. I'll be patiently waiting for Alaina Urquharts next installment to this story. I pray there's so much more!

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  • Adam Hughes
  • 09-15-22

Honest opinion

I enjoyed the story and overall it was a good listen, short and sweet, I look forward to more.
I hated that almost all of the male characters were voice by a woman and the overall performance of the readers wasn’t all that, I’d like if someone else had done it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-15-22

Enthralling!!

Absolutely loved this book!! it was captivating from start to finish! It will be stuck in my mind for a while!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel Boon
  • 09-13-22

Good story poor performance

Good story and well written, but unfortunately the voice actors/ readers of the book, not so great. I have been a fan of morbid for the past 4 years and was really looking forward to this book coming out, to feel a little let down by the story telling. Sorry

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-16-22

Enthralling from start to finish

Absolutely chilling & I loved it! I devoured this book in one sitting because it was too captivating to turn off. Jeremy is truly a thing of nightmares.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-07-22

Highly recommend

This book had me on the edge!! I’m normally someone who can pick plots, but Alaina!! As an OG morbid listener from the underwater days.. I had to support, but I’m over the moon I did!! This book gave me chills and they multiplied throughout the book! The references to our good old wet lettuce big bad’s and the accuracy when portraying body decomposition! This book is mint!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-29-22

Great Listen!

Loved it, the hunt scene is crazy and thinking about being hunted like that is scary. Had to listen as I love her podcast "Morbid" thats a must listen to as well :)

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-27-22

Phenomenal

I may have had some bias coming into this story, as I am a HUGE fan of Morbid. But this book blew me away. I was hooked into the characters by the end of chapter 2. I have completely binge listened this entire book in a day. “ could not put down” as they say.
It is so well written, with great plot twists and development of such complex and fascinating characters. I cannot wait for more

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-20-22

wow

loved it, its been a long time since a crime novel surprised me. 😮

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-15-22

WOW

Amazing, couldn't put it down can't wait for the next book!!! so we'll written