The Chopping Block is a veritable feast of Grimm lore
The Chopping Block is the second novel in a series of books tying into the Grimm universe; much like other popular television series, the show has its fair share of followers and writers penning new, unrelated stories for Nick, Hank, Monroe, and the rest of the cast. John Passarella is no stranger to TV tie-ins; he’s worked on novels for Supernatural, Buffy, and Angel, so he’s had a lot of experience taking the themes and dialogue from established shows and creating new storylines for those characters.
His knowledge of the format is apparent; The Chopping Block‘s dialogue for Nick, Monroe, and Hank is spot-on, flowing evenly from small screen to novel format. Nick’s terseness and intensity is here; Wu’s comical cynicism is also on display, as well as Monroe’s rambling qualities. It’s nice to see that Passarella has done his research, emphasizing a reverence to the characters that doesn’t always occur in tie-ins.
The Chopping Block also features a storyline that includes nearly all of the Wesen already established in Grimm lore. While Passarella defers to the previously existing creatures, he creates an entirely new event within the show’s canon – a huge feast that select Wesen participate in every 25 years, causing quite a few human deaths along the way. This legendary part of Wesen culture has become obsolete for many because of its ferocity, but there are still some that are eager to consume human flesh; the feast ends with a tight chain dinner, meaning that the person is consumed raw, and alive.
The trail of human bones leads Nick and Hank to this grisly rite, and it quickly becomes apparent to Nick that he’s dealing with a Wesen murder spree instead of anything done by humans. Tons of human bones are found half-buried, and then many kidnapped persons are reported, leading to the conclusion that the Wesen are planning some sort of grotesque feast.
Nick hunts down the killers via a series of fliers laid out at different locations in Portland, and Hank helps out where he can – The Chopping Block takes place during events involving the Cracher-Mortel in the telvision show, so he’s still on crutches at this point. Meanwhile, Monroe gets involved with Decker, one of his old Blutbad buddies who says he’s trying to go all veggie like Monroe.
The events of the novel have a certain similarity to season 3’s episode “A Dish Best Served Cold”; that one also involves nasty restaurant rituals and deaths occurring due to eating, but The Chopping Block branches out a bit for a Wesen dining experience that prays on the humans. Passarella’s story is entertaining and swift, bringing Nick to various environments in order to investigate the most important parts of the case.
But Passarella also includes some side-stories that don’t fit well within the overall plot. Juliette has a short couple of chapters about dealing with a dog in her veterinarian clinic that changes her perspective on looking for rarer diagnoses, and this pulls Rosalee into the novel as well. Yet it’s a moment that is concluded about halfway through the novel, leaving it hanging while Nick attempts to solve his own problems.
The subplot involving Decker is more connected to Nick’s case, but it also telegraphs the later plot twist a bit too much. It’s nice to spend so much time with Monroe attending Pilates, meditation, and other Monroe-ian classes, but there’s a bit too much emphasis on Decker; it’s not so much a surprise that he’s involved in the Wesen feast as it is a shock Monroe doesn’t realize it.
Still, The Chopping Block is a good edition to the Grimm canon, and Passarella expands upon the television show with a plot that mimics the episodic adventures of Nick and his friends quite well. Though the novel’s a bit bloodier than most episodes, the new Wesen feast is an interesting addition to the universe, albeit one we’ll probably never see mentioned on the show.