Friday, April 9, 2021

The Jigsaw Man - Nadine Matheson

Nadine Matheson's debut crime novel is The Jigsaw Man. That perfectly creepy cover hints at what's hiding inside...

Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is just back to active duty after surviving an attack from serial killer Peter Olivier. He's behind bars in a maximum security prison. But the case she's called to seems to mimic his crimes - the dismembering of his victims. The brand he left on his victims is there as well. Does he have an acolyte on the outside? A copycat?

What a great lead character Matheson has created. I liked Anjelica from the get go. She's highly intelligent, driven, respected, but flawed as well. Although the physical wounds from Olivier's attack have healed, she's still emotionally scarred  and her personal life is a bit of a mess. Matheson has also built a solid cast of supporting players in the Serial Crimes Unit. I was quite drawn to trainee DC Salim Ramouter. And I heartily disliked Anjelica's husband and mother in law.

In the beginning I thought this was a second book for this crew, but it was indeed the first. Matheson does a great job building the characters, their history and their relationships in such a way that they all felt quite established already. They're a crew that work the dark cases.

The plot isn't straight forward, taking a number of turns that kept me guessing. There are quite a few suspects, victims and aliases,  so listen carefully to keep track of everyone. The police procedures hit all the right notes and are believable. My pet peeve is convenient clues that are dropped in a protagonist's lap. Not the case in The Jigsaw Man - Henley and her team have to work to put the pieces together. (Yeah, that one was on purpose!)

Gentle readers, this one may not be for you as the crimes are quite brutal and graphic. (Think Silence of the Lambs)  Matheson is herself  a criminal defense attorney and the plot and characters definitely benefit from this inside knowledge. I've got my fingers crossed that Matheson is hard at work on another Anjelica Henley book! (The Jigsaw Man has also been optioned for television.)

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