The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

If you like your crime-fiction thrillers to be on the grisly side, then The Jigsaw Man is undoubtedly the book for you.  This is exhilarating murder mystery is all the more remarkable for being the author’s debut novel, and I promise you’ll be absolutely hooked.

A spellbinding game of cat and mouse . . . with chilling echoes of Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs.’
Daily Mail

what it says on the cover …

There’s a serial killer on the loose.

When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there.

The race is on before more bodies are found.

She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind …

Will it take a killer to catch the killer?

Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?

PUBLISHED: 18th February 2021
SHELF: thriller | suspense | mystery | crime
AUTHOR: Nadine Matheson
FORMATS: Hardback | Audiobook | Kindle

‘What’s wrong? You couldn’t afford to buy the inspector flowers so you thought she’d be more amenable to body parts instead?

my review

The Jigsaw Man is a cracking new arrival to the crime-fiction shelves.  It’s the author’s thrilling debut novel and what a splash she’s going to make into this popular genre.  Her characters are fresh, street-smart, and all of them well developed.  Her story is part hide-behind-the-sofa / part can’t-look-away, and the plot is remarkable for its sheer immediacy, tension and grit.  She strikes all the right notes for likeable detective characters, and places a talented, committed black woman in the lead role as DI Angelica Henley.

Set in and around recognisable locations in south east London, the book drops the reader directly in to the story as three unsuspecting members of the public make rather grisly discoveries.  Overnight, dismembered body parts have been discarded along the Deptford stretch of the Thames; some seemingly washed to shore, others appear to be a macabre display … and all bear the hallmarks of the notorious serial killer, the Jigsaw Man.  But with the Jigsaw Man – Peter Olivier – safely behind bars serving seven life sentences as a CatA prisoner in Belmarsh’s high security unit so it’s quite clear to Henley and her colleagues at the Serial Crimes Unit that a copycat killer wants to be noticed.

It’s been just over two years since DI Henley arrested Olivier; a case that almost cost her her life, her pregnancy, and continues to suck any happiness out of her marriage to Rob.  Since her return from maternity leave, she’s been on restrictive duties, desk-bound both by her boss DSI Pellacia and by crippling flash-backs and nightmares.  This new wave of murders will test Henley to her very limits; not only has she been assigned a trainee detective to assist her, but as more and more dismembered bodies are discovered she’s forced to visit Olivier to investigate the identity of his copycat.

Peter Olivier has been superbly cast – he’s a manipulative, high-functioning sociopath, redolent of Hannibal Lecter. In fact, the dynamic between Olivier and Henley is as chilling and discomfiting at Lecter and Starling … a parallel that’s been very nicely echoed by the author.  The chilling fear Henley experiences whenever Olivier is nearby is excellently portrayed; it seeped right out of the pages and set my nerves on edge.  Whilst he’s a ruthlessly accomplished killer, there’s no denying his charisma and influence; two traits he employs with devastating efficiency to put himself on the trail of this new killer.

The procedural investigation dominates the majority of the book’s text, and it’s through these chapters that the tenuous relationship between Henley and Trainee Detective Constable Salim Ramouter really flourishes.  Henley’s initial reaction to ‘babysitting’ the unit’s trainee was textbook grumpy-detective, but over the course of the investigation, as she learns more about this quiet, intelligent young man they develop a working partnership that I really enjoyed.  I can’t help but admire the author’s partnering of two characters who don’t know each other at all as a vehicle to bring-out their characteristics and backstories – very clever writing. This teasing-out technique seems to be something of a trademark style, as it’s been adeptly used throughout the book to lift notable events from the SCU team’s history out of the past and into the daylight, creating the impression of already knowing these characters, whilst helping the reader understand some of the events that are about to unfold in this book.

Don’t let the procedural practicalities lull you into a false sense of security though … just as you start to relax a new chapter forces another bloody scene into your imagination.  Sometimes the author chooses to be in the room with the killer, seeing the horror through the eyes of the victims (yes, they can see what’s happening as the dismembering starts … I’ll just leave that thought there), and at other times the author chooses to reveal the latest murder to us through the eyes of Dr Linh Choi; the hugely likeable, straight-talking forensic pathologist. Both scenes leave little to the imagination, and I’d go so far as to say they’ll make the stomach of even the most ardent murder-fan lurch.

The Jigsaw Man is an absorbing, feisty read that blends the grit of a modern murder investigation with the heart and soul of an authentically diverse drama.  There are so many threads as to the killer’s motivation, and the connection between the victims that the author dangles suggestively for the reader to try and catch.  It boasts all the hallmarks of a crime bestseller, building in pace and drama towards a dramatically tense conclusion … but did it?  Could that be an opening to a follow-up book I see there?  I sincerely hope so … DI Henley and TDI Ramouter have only just got started, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d dearly love to see more from them sometime soon.  

my rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to HQ Stories for sending me this advance copy of #TheJigsawMan in return for an honest review.

Nadine Matheson author
Tina Baker author

tina baker

Nadine Matheson has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. She was born and lives in London and is a Criminal Solicitor.

 In 2016, she won the City University Crime Writing Competition and completed the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller Novels) MA at City University of London with Distinction in 2018. 

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