A serial killer is on the loose in London. The killer leaves a very specific mark on the victims – the only problem? That killer has already be found. It seems a copycat is terrorising the streets.
Nadine Matheson, the author of this novel, was born and raised in Deptford. She is, in addition to being a writer, a criminal solicitor. The Jigsaw Man is her debut crime novel.
The Jigsaw Man begins, after an interesting prologue, with Detective Inspector (DI) Anjelica Henley arguing with her husband. She is on her way to work when she’s told to take a detour to a new case.
The case involves a cut up body and a mark; a mark Henley recognises from a killer she jailed two years ago. So who’s copied Peter Olivier’s work?
More bodies slowly turn up, and Henley’s anxiety following the Olivier case, doubled with her marriage falling apart, begins to take its toll on her throughout the book – though she does maintain her composure (most of the time).
The book then follows DI Henley and her Trainee Detective Salim Ramouter, along with other brilliant members of the team in Deptford, London, trying to figure out why someone would want to copy the work of someone so cold and remorseless like Olivier.
Things keep piling up on Henley and her team, and the pressure gets to them all. New leads are combined with useless witnesses and the frustration Henley feels is spread from the first chapter to the last.
When you open this book, there is no immediate backstory – you’re planted right at the start. The case kicks off right away and it is an excellent way to begin a novel, especially one involving murder cases.
Our main character, DI Henley, is a great centre for this novel. She’s been out of the field since her scrape with Olivier, and you feel her emotions as she processes dealing with a macabre murder case first thing in the morning on her returning day back in the field.
One thing Matheson does really well is build up Henley’s character. You can feel the connection between author and character, which is brilliant. The challenges that Henley and Ramouter face as people of colour is explored subtly, but with significant impact.
Despite this praise, however, there are some issues within the novel that cause it to drag a little.
Every now and again while reading The Jigsaw Man, coming across a grammatical error isn’t uncommon. While there are small blunders, such as a missing quotation mark to signal the end of a sentence, or the mistake of not attaching an apostrophe and an ‘s’ to create ownership, these issues are spread throughout the book.
While the grammatical problems are small, they are significant and the more you read, the more the tiny glitches surface.
In addition to this, it is regrettable to state that the book dragged on a little. Whether is being due to the aforementioned grammatical issues, or the overly explained and sometimes excessive conversations and descriptions, the book seemed to go on for a while.
Books that focus on murders should be intriguing, gritty, and memorable; unfortunately, The Jigsaw Man doesn’t complete the latter.
While the story was brilliant and the crimes themselves were gruesome and interesting, the conversations between characters felt fabricated at times; in the sense that real people don’t talk the way the characters did.
In spite of these setbacks, the narrative still stood strong. Henley faces so much within the pages of this novel, and her trainee partner, Ramouter, is a wonderful character whose intelligence and warm personality shines right through.
The story is complex and quite well thought out, and you can tell that Matheson’s occupation as a criminal solicitor was definitely utilised while planning and putting together this book.
The Jigsaw Man is a decent enough crime thriller, but unlikely to stick with you for very long after putting it back on your shelf.
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
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