Grimm: The Chopping Block by John Passaralla starts off well by placing the story clearly within the timeline of the television show. The very first thing we learn about it is from the “Historian’s Note,” which places the happenings in the novel between the television episodes of “The Walking Dead” and “Goodnight Sweet Grimm.”
This lets the reader who is a fan know about the history that has happened just before the novel and what the major characters don’t yet know. It sets up expectations for time line in a concise and elegant way.
Author John Passaralla also writes in such a way that the reader who isn’t a fan can easily get up to speed, within the storyline of the book, without overburdening the narrative with too much back story. These details assist the reader to orient themselves in the world of Grimm with a minimum of fuss or confusion.
The story starts out with a father and son geocaching, which is a cool thing that really does happen. I’ve been geocaching and it’s very fun. This being a Grimm novel they find human remains and our story is off. Nick and Hank are called in to take a look and see what they can find out about the victim and the perpetrator.
The author handles writing Nick and all of the known characters from the show very gingerly. As a reader I found this to be a bit of a shame. There was a distance between the reader and the characters that arose from a sense that the author didn’t want to take them in a direction that might not fit in the neat slot of the timeline. Also the author’s own characters were so well written that there was a sense of a gulf between the two character types, those that were created by and belonged to the author and those that were Grimm creations.
The Chopping Block builds suspense in a masterful way. As a reader I was just settling in to enjoying the mystery, wondering who, of the characters we were meeting were involved in the horrible murders when the narrative just comes right out and tells it all. I was not ready to have the mystery demystified so soon. It almost felt like a spoiler. Once that cat is out of the bag then it’s all down to when will Nick discover what the reader already knows.
Fans of the show know that Grimm tends towards darker fantasy, in keeping with the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are quite dark. The Chopping Block is no exception. It is a horror story. There are some scenes in the book that are pretty gruesome and quite horrible. It’s not hinted at horror either, John Passaralla comes right out and says it when something awful happens.
Terrible creatures do terrible things to people. Nick and Hank along with Monroe their Wessen friend are in a race against time to save lives. The suspense is well played out and if horror is your thing, isn’t a bad choice, especially if you like explicit, descriptive horror.
Grimm: The Chopping Block is now available from Titan Books.