In the same time Juliette has to deal with the mysterious illness of a family dog which brings this dog into fatal danger. Can she keep the pet safe with Rosalee's help? And also Monroe is going through a hard time when his past shows up at the farmer's market ...
Unless the contradictonarity the hardest work for a reviewer is to write a review about a novel he/she loves. It is easy to count down the mistakes the author has done when you care about the book but not really love it. But if a novel is nearly perfect - well, that's really tough. You don't want to praise it too high, but you also cannot point on what's not there. You cannot give advices if there's nothing you can give this advice about And you always have to keep in mind that, especially if you know the writer, you can easily be put into a box yourself.
Well, one good thing, I don't know John Passarella. Nontheless I will definitely spend more time with his other works and also hope The Chopping Block won't be his last tie-in novel for Grimm. But still, there's a little problem between this novel and me: I simply fell in love with this book!
It is a pretty rare experience for me personally to "see" and "hear" during the reading. If so, other works of the same author have a highly chance to end u[ on my bookshelf. To keep a long story short, here I felt like I was watching an episode of Grimm I saw Nick on his paper chase, I saw Monroe sighing after his old friend Decker failed another challenge, I heard Wu's snarky commentaries and Parker's voice. I felt with Hank, still on crutches, and Juliette, who fight the good fight for the family dog. And I loved every single sentence of this story, set in the right position, exactly where it would have been if this was a real (onscreen) part of the show.
Passarella did something, John Shirley didn't do: he placed his novel within the canon, and it made sense to have it there. Unless I think it was a little weird that Renard never mentioned that Eric was also in town, I loved this little hints from Nick, juggling with two cases at the same time, still searching the Baron (Cracher-Mortal) out there, knowing he was up to something, and also have to deal with the butchering of another Wesen. Yes, the novel is set between what happens in 2.21 and 2.22.
I think what I probably love the most is Juliette's side story. Finally we learn about her work at the clinic, and we see, she's really dedicated to her job. And she's staying adult during her storyline (just saying ...). Research is always a huge part of the writing process, and Passarella did here a lot of background work, which is clearly visible and makes the story even more valuable.
I also liked his little challenge with Hank so much, because it could have been also on the show. What I wrote on Twitter while I read the scenes: an early payback for Hank's "Don't make yourself too comfortable" during 3.03. Every crime-scene was like hell if you are on crutches. And, regarding to the quote I wrote above, Nick's response always was to ask Hank if he "wanted to sit this one out". Seriously, I laughed pretty loud about that!
While it was clear, right before his friend was uncovered to be involved into the cannibal-crime, that Decker, Monroe's old friend, was involved into what was going on there. But that was okay, because it was fun to see all of them (Monroe, Nick, Hank) act with Decker, not knowing that he was one of the answers they were looking for. And the clue to bring not only Hank, but also Monroe in fatal danger, could have been a lame one but turned out to be a masterpiece. When the Hundjaeger showed up in the end I first started to roll my eyes, before I read the explanation for his appeareance at the side of the crime.
Monroe's effort to teach Decker to become a Wider (yep, I know, but this would have been the correct word, not Wieder, as Wieder means "again" and Monroe is living "against" (wider) his Blutbad-instincts) were hilarious and surely another highlight of the novel. Unless what most fans are thinking, writing a believable Monroe, especially from his own inside, is hard work. Fun but hard work.
Wu shot his not-really oneliners with precession and had also a little more to do than we usually see on screen during the show. And for this also - well done! Same for Rosalee. True, she was barely there. But when she showed up during the novel she was also clearly identifiable. Renard may be a little too open, on the other side I will give there credit as I personally think he got a bust in showing a bit more of himself after 2.18.
So, what to say about The Chopping Block? I remember last week I wrote another review, counting down the main-failures another writer did for the same franchise And, as weird as this situation is now, I only can say: nearly perfect. To come back to the grades I played with last time, The Chopping Block is a clear A+. The novel is written in a lighthearted mood that it also makes easy to love it. Even the gruelsome scenes (the butchering itself, yes, Passarella describes it one chapter very ... professional) are written in a way, that gives you goosebumps but also entertains you. The tone and mood from Grimm perfectly transfered into a novel. And personally I hope this will not be the last novel in this franchise we've seen from John Passarella.