So what happens when you get shallow graves filled with boiled bones, a blast from one’s less than proud past and a Wesen dining experience celebration that takes place once every quarter century? You get John Passarella’s ‘Grimm: The Chopping Block’, the second novel exploring the supernatural world of NBC’s ‘Grimm’.
A father and son spending quality time together in Claremont Park stumble over the bones of a most unlucky victim. When an investigation of the area reveals another set of bones, Detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin are on the case. When two adolescents discover what ends up being a mass grave made up of almost a dozen missing persons, Nick, Hank and the game surmise that this isn’t just some random serial killer. With Monroe’s help, they figure out that things are winding down for the most secret of Wesen gatherings, a month-long feast where the members subsist on the most succulent of delicacies…human flesh.
Speaking of Monroe, he runs across Decker, an old friend and Blutbad that reminds him of days past. Days spent imbibing in the joys of meat and carnage. But he’s reformed now and, at Decker’s behest, takes on the role of Mr. Miyagi, showing his former friend the vegetarian lifestyle he leads can truly work, even for the most hearty of Wesen meat eaters.
Taking place just before the season two finale, “Good Night, Sweet Grimm”, parts of the book touch on events not related to the primary case. In Nick’s personal life, he and Juliette are slowly finding their way back to one another while Monroe and Rosalee continue on their path to a bright future. Speaking of Juliette, she’s given her moment to shine as we get to see her at work as a veterinarian, working tirelessly to save a family’s dog from what looks to be an incurable bout of kidney failure. The only unattached main character, Hank’s still recovering from his Achilles tear, suffered while vacationing with his ex-wife. Out of primary Grimm lineup, Captain Renard is the only one whose personal story isn’t touched on but with so much going on between cannibal Wesen and the exploration of the main characters, adding in the political maneuverings of the Royal families would have unnecessarily bogged down the narrative.
And it’s a narrative befitting a place in the ‘Grimm’ mythos. Passarella’s done his homework, not just from a storyline perspective but capturing the essence of each character, right down to the oft overlooked dialogue. I caught myself smiling several times throughout the book, because I could see Dave Giuntoli , Silas Weir Mitchell, Bitsie Tulloch and the others delivering their lines with the same enthusiasm and heart as they do on the show. And that authenticity is why ‘The Chopping Block’ shines. By itself, the book would have been a good ride but not a standout piece of fiction. But it’s not a vacuum and its strength lies in being a part of a greater whole.
Now, that’s not to say ‘The Chopping Block’ isn’t without its shortcomings. There are a few places where the narrative slows with too much of the telling instead of showing. Renard’s part in more of a supporting character thus his commanding presence is never truly a part of things (though he is instrumental in the climax). Speaking of climax, though it’s set up well, the action itself is somewhat lacking. Part of this is due to the complexity in writing a truly gripping action scene; it’s not an easy thing to do and though Passarella does an admirable job, the finale lacks that sense of urgency executed so well in the show.
Despite the deductions highlighted in the preceding paragraph, fans of ‘Grimm’ owe it to themselves to check out ‘Grimm: The Chopping Block’. It’s a welcome addition to the fantastical world of Wesen and the Grimm chosen to fight them.
What are you waiting for—go out there and pick it up!