"Grimm: The Killing Time" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Titan Books
Written by Tim Waggoner
2014, 272 pages, Fiction
Released on September 30th, 2014
I would like to congratulate author Tim Waggoner for crafting the best episode of Grimm that no one will ever see. Grimm: The Killing Time could easily be the best hour of the show ever aired, with its excellent plot, intriguing villain, world-scope and enough action to make any fan happy. It would never be filmed though, because to film this novel as written (and each of the Grimm books published by Titan is a standalone story that could serve as an episode and is usually sandwiched between two regular airings chronologically) would be budget-busting to say the least. One of the things that is a hallmark of the show is that they keep the creature display to a minimum (one assumes for budgetary reasons), but The Killing Time has the Wesen working their woge (creature transformation for the uninitiated) overtime.
In The Killing Time, Waggoner takes our normal view of Portland and upends it and expands the scope of the Wesen community easily ten-fold. He also introduces a villain (for lack of a better term) who is perhaps more relatable than most. The creature in question must kill to keep itself alive, and adopts the looks, clothing, characteristics and memories of its victims, essentially assuming their life for its own, and effectively living many lives. For this poor, unfortunate character, its time is running low, and the need to find, kill and assume new identities is increasing, which lands it on Detective Nick Burkhardt's radar. As both a cop and a Grimm, he has to hunt it down and make it pay for its crimes. But the killer, a Wechselbalg, attacks Nick, siphoning off some of his energy and memories, but not completing the feed, which leaves the creature, who thinks of themselves as Nick with a mission to be a true Grimm and eliminate the "bad" Wesen. Unfortunately, the Wechselbalg thinks all Wesen are bad.
To complicate matters, the Wechselbalg's interaction with Nick causes a rare disease to start spreading, which causes all Wesen that are exposed to not be able to hide their Wesen nature. Rosalee, the Wesen healer, must race to find a cure while fighting the effects of the Ewig Woge. To help the community stay in the shadows, they begin to gather in a safe area away from the prying eyes of the general public, making a convenient target for the Wechselbalg.
This book sizzles with tension and a real sense of urgency as the walls start to close in and the clock keeps ticking. The suspense is palpable and fantastically gripping. But, what really makes this story so good is the sympathetic nature of the antagonist. Its ideology may be flawed and it is a killer, but you also find yourself feeling bad for the creature at points. It is, after all, merely trying to survive. This plot line invites a lot of philosophical grey-area thinking; not something you might ordinarily expect out of a serialized television show.
Waggoner, an inveterate writer with numerous novels to his credit, plays well with the established Grimm universe, but adds a unique flavor that elevates, yet complements the status quo. It's not always easy to accomplish that feat and rise above at the same time, but he is eminently successful. If you are a fan of the show, you will absolutely love Grimm: The Killing Time.