The Jigsaw Man

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson cover image

Yes, it’s as macabre as that title suggests it might be. We’re not talking about a quiet afternoon with a 5,000 piece puzzle here.

Author: Nadine Matheson

Finished on: 28 February 2021

Where did I get this book: Pre-ordered last year with my leaving work present Waterstones voucher

There’s a new detective on the block. And a new serial killer. Or make that two serial killers.

The Jigsaw Man is a brand new police procedural crime novel from debut author Nadine Matheson. And yes, it’s as macabre as that title suggests it might be. We’re not talking about a quiet afternoon with a 5,000 piece puzzle here.

Imagine if you took The Silence of the Lambs and Val McDermid’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan books, mixed them up and set them down in Deptford, south London, and you’ve got an idea of what to expect.

Our detective is DI Anjelica Henley, just back on the job after suffering horrific injuries at the hands of Peter Olivier, a serial killer now behind bars. One of the real strengths of Matheson’s writing is the sense of being dropped right into the middle of events and lives – there’s no messing about, no gentle introduction to this story. We’re straight into police officers with real and difficult personal lives having to deal with body parts being discovered up and down the banks of the Thames.

Henley is a fully-formed lead who leaps off the page. It would be an understatement to say this is a woman with a lot on her plate; she struggles and she’s flawed. A bit like, you know, real people. This is a character you immediately feel you know – I imagine her played by a stressed out Naomie Harris in the next big BBC crime drama series.

One of the most fully realised characters in a book of well-drawn characters , though, is Deptford itself. We smell and taste the landscape on the south banks of the river. This is a side of London, far from Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the tourist throngs, that is relatively rarely explored in fiction, and it is impressively vivid. We’re right there with Henley and her team in the mud uncovering a severed leg or two.

The Jigsaw Man is a gripping, gruesome, exciting read. And Matheson is a crime writer to watch.

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