The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson: Gory, gruesome and gripping - book review -

When body parts are found by the River Thames in London, the murders have all the hallmarks of a notorious serial killer.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 12:30 pm
The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson
The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

But Peter Olivier, nicknamed the Jigsaw Man, has been locked away in Belmarsh Prison for over two years on a full-life tariff and no one knows that better than DI Anjelica Henley… because she was the one who nearly died bringing him to justice.

If you like your murder mysteries to come gory, gruesome and gripping, then dive into this hard-hitting debut thriller from Nadine Matheson, a black criminal lawyer whose dark, disturbing tale of a cat-and-mouse police hunt is set only a short distance from her home in Deptford.

Drawing on her own experiences in the world of criminal law, this exciting new voice in crime fiction delivers a chilling page-turner, steeped in the vibes of this area of south-east London and featuring a diverse cast of characters from both the lawful and unlawful sides of the local community.

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Leading the charge in the hunt for a sinister and brutal murderer is our feisty female lead, Anjelica, a black woman juggling motherhood, a disgruntled husband and a complex family life with a high-profile job as head of the Serial Crime Unit.

Only recently returned to frontline work after the case that ‘changed everything’ for Anjelica, she is still recovering from the near-fatal stab wound the Jigsaw Man inflicted on her over two years ago. She nailed the evil culprit, won a commendation and promotion to detective inspector, but the horrifying events ‘had stolen a piece of her.’

Anjelica divides her time between her full-on job and being a wife to home-working financial journalist husband Rob and mother to toddler daughter Emma, but often wonders what it said about her that she was secretly ‘happier dealing with rapists and murderers’ than her own husband.

On the day she returns to active duty, Anjelica is called to a crime scene at Greenwich Pier where the scattered, dismembered body parts from two victims – a white man and a black woman – have been found by the river.

The murders have all the hallmarks of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer, but how can it be him when he is incarcerated in a high security prison wing? The race is on now before more bodies are found and despite her spine-chilling reservations, Anjelica knows she will have to face Olivier again because he might be the best chance they have at stopping a copycat killer.

But when Olivier learns that someone is using his grisly signature – the arrangement of victims’ limbs in puzzle-piece shapes – he decides to take matters into his own hands, and Anjelica is faced with an unspeakable new threat.

‘Death was her adrenalin and it scared her’ because Anjelica Henley knows all too well that her inbuilt fearlessness, recklessness and desire for justice could see her become the next victim…

The sassy, gutsy but quietly vulnerable Anjelica has her work cut out to piece together a baffling case which comes packed full of body parts, red herrings, suspects and menace, and slowly but surely builds into an adrenalin-fuelled race against time.

Matheson knows her stuff when it comes to team work and police procedural, and there are some stand-out moments – not least, the Hannibal Lecter-style jail interview with the creepy Jigsaw Man – as readers are drawn into the mind of the killer, and the private and professional worlds of Anjelica and her charismatic, fiercely ambitious trainee detective partner, Salim Ramouter.

Well written, expertly plotted – and with some (literally!) bone-crunching scenes and devilish twists and turns – The Jigsaw Man is a top-notch debut, and puts both Nadine Matheson and Anjelica Henley firmly on the crime thriller map.

(HQ, hardback, £12.99)