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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Need a spooky read? Try 'The Butcher and the Wren' by Alaina Urquhart

The cover art for "Morbid: A True Crime Podcast" co-hosted by Alaina Urquhart is pictured.

Hidden in Louisiana’s bayous resides a serial killer whose shifting MO (modus operandi) has stumped investigators. Dr. Wren Muller, the local forensic pathologist, provides her own insights as the mystery unravels. As it becomes clear that Dr. Muller’s path has crossed the Bayou Butcher previously, time begins to run out, and she joins the detectives on the case in a race against the butcher before more people can be sadistically murdered. 

Over the past few years, true crime media has taken the internet by storm. One of the most popular forms of true crime content comes in the form of podcasts. “Morbid: A True Crime Podcast,” hosted by Boston locals Alaina Urquhart and Ash Kelley, is often found at the top of Apple Podcasts’ and Spotify’s charts. These two women are related, technically aunt and niece, but their small age difference and close relationship is more like that of sisters. Alaina is an autopsy technician when not podcasting, and as of this September, she is also a bestselling author. Her debut novel, “The Butcher and the Wren” (2022), was released on Sept. 13, and just over a month later, it has been on The New York Times Best Sellers list ever since. Urquhart’s talent for storytelling is clear to anyone who has listened to “Morbid,” “Scream!” or “The Rewatcher,” all podcasts she co-hosts. Her technical knowledge from her job as an autopsy technician aids her meticulously researched, often multi-part episodes, breaking down cases from Ted Bundy to tales of cryptids to the Salem Witch Trials. It comes as little surprise that her first novel is a hit among fans of both her podcasts and crime thrillers in general. A little over a week after it was released, “The Butcher and the Wren” had already been picked up by producer Jennifer Yale and production companies Sister and Radio Silence to be adapted as a television series. The novel flips between the viewpoints of a serial killer terrorizing Louisiana and the county medical examiner working to unravel the clues alongside detectives as bodies pile up in the morgue. Urquhart does a fantastic job distinguishing between the voices of her two narrators, in both their tone and style of language. The fast-paced story and constant suspense keep you hooked, making it very difficult to put the novel down once you start reading it. No matter if you are a fan of crime stories, mysteries, fiction in general or just want a new book to read, “The Butcher and the Wren” is a novel that can appeal to all types of readers, but should maybe be limited to audiences above the age of 16 due to the extreme violence that comes from any story about a serial killer.

While this isn’t the coziest read, and should maybe not be picked up as a bedtime read, now is the perfect time to start it considering Halloween is only days away, and it would pair well with a fresh cup of coffee and a warm blanket while avoiding the cool air outdoors. 

5/5 stars

Summary For anyone in need of a new read, fans of true-crime and thrillers, and even those who don’t read often but are looking to start, “The Butcher and the Wren” is a fresh, engaging novel you won’t be able to put down!
5 Stars