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Crime Files – The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson #BookReview

On the day she returns to active duty with the Serial Crimes Unit, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is called to a crime scene. Dismembered body parts from two victims have been found by the river.

The modus operandi bears a striking resemblance to Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer, who has spent the past two years behind bars. When he learns that someone is co-opting his grisly signature–the arrangement of victims’ limbs in puzzle-piece shapes–he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As the body count rises, DI Anjelica Henley is faced with an unspeakable new threat. Can she apprehend the copycat killer before Olivier finds a way to get to him first? Or will she herself become the next victim?

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson book cover

Title: The Jigsaw Man | Author: Nadine Matheson | Publisher: Hanover Square Press | Pages: 496 | ISBN: 9781335146564 | Publication date: 16 March 2021 | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher

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The Jigsaw Man Review

‘The Trigger Man’ is the debut crime novel from writer Nadine Matheson, who is getting a lot of good press and who I suspect will become a regular on mystery fan’s shelves. It’s a mostly successful and very readable serial killer thriller that mixes good central characters and a realistic depiction of modern London with a slightly hokey, overblown plot.

The book follows a black female detective, Anjelica Henley with the Metropolitan Police’s Serial Crime Unit, investigating a series of dismembered corpses. The crimes bear similarities to Henley’s most notorious previous case, serial killer Peter Olivier, nicknamed by the press the Jigsaw Man. 

The spectre of an imprisoned psychopath hanging over a current investigation is a familiar one, but Matheson uses it well. Olivier is deeply creepy and the mystery of who is committing the current crimes is well handled. At times the high stakes, high concept plot feels a bit at odds with the humdrum police procedural detail, but it certainly kept me turning the pages.

What the book does best, though, is provide a believable cast of characters and a very real feeling London. Both are multi-cultural and convincing, with race and gender interwoven throughout the story. Matheson does a bit less with her black, female Detective Inspector than I expected her too, but the book works well and Henley is an engaging lead. 

As in the best modern crime novels, the police feel like working Joes (or Janes) in ‘The Jigsaw Man’, balancing the demands of home against the pressures of the job. Henley and her sidekick both have a lot going on outside of work, but those details add to the book rather than slowing it down. Similarly, the sense of place in the book is spot on. The dirty bustle of London is very recognisable, and the book made me miss the city that COVID has kept me away from over the last year.

It’s a shame that the plot lacks the credibility of the book’s other features. It’s definitely an enjoyable page turner, but it’s a bit over the top and silly at times too. If Matheson can lift her plotting to the level of her characters, then British crime fiction may have found a big new voice. 

Content Warning:


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