The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson (2021) Review

Best game of cat and mouse… and mouse

Why I picked up the book:

The worst case of DI Angelica Henley’s career has left her hurt and traumatized. At least Peter Olivier – her nemesis dubbed as The Jigsaw Killer, has been caught and put away behind bars.

Still dealing with the aftermath of her encounter with Olivier, Angelica is dragged into a case that feels like Déjà vu: body parts are found around the Thames. This discovery not only resembles The Jigsaw Killer’s MO, but it also carries his signature. But how is it possible if Olivier is still behind bars and this detail was never revealed?

Looking for answers, Angelica faces her nemesis. Olivier is not impressed: he denies any involvement. He is repulsed and offended by the idea of working with anyone. It soon becomes evident to us that he plans to deal with his copycat.

A cat mouse game gets a significant dose of steroids as we find a serial killer chasing his copycat and our heroine chasing them both!

The book through my criteria lens:

First and foremost, can we stop for a minute and appreciate the world Matheson created for us with her characters and atmosphere? Her characters leaped from the page – Nadine delivered REAL people. Every character in her book was multidimensional, well developed, and had a reason to be there. Her description of modern-day London was accurate and authentic. Not to mention that the procedural parts left no doubt that this author cares about what she writes and is intimately familiar with the British legal system.

I absolutely adored the plot idea and was sold by its description alone. Personally, I had never seen a book or movie in which the copycat is chased by the serial killer, and I was here for every second of it. The Jigsaw Man was gruesome, gritty, grisly, and spared no details. Go into it with a strong stomach or a coping mechanism. With that said, the book wasn’t cheap at any moment. Is it violent? Yes, because real-life crimes are. Was the violence gratuitous? Not in my opinion. We have become desensitized as humans and sometimes mention violence in fiction like this alien force that doesn’t happen every day. It does.

I appreciate the fairness with which the book solution was delivered. The parts of the puzzle (no pun intended) were dropped organically and were there for us to collect. Clues were psychological, as well as tangible. I loved that we had to solve the copycat’s mystery. Still, we were also given information about the OG killer – his motivations, crimes, capture, and conviction.

The only thing that wasn’t a slam dunk for me was the length. Don’t get me wrong, I read it really fast and will reread it, but it felt as though the book was slightly longer than I would have liked. Also, the copycat storyline was good and solid, but Olivier is just too good of a character. The copycat faded in comparison.

My personal feelings:

I just want to thank Matheson for finally giving me a serial killer whose motivation I believe in. In a way, I can relate to Olivier – Please don’t take me wrong. Just hear me out. Suppose I have painted brilliant pictures (in my opinion), and my inspiration was very personal and traumatic. The act of painting those pictures was something I needed to do, and it felt cathartic. Then, I break my arms. Are you telling me I should be glad someone is copying my style and seeking fame off my emotional wounds? Beaaashhh, please! No one would! So I was here for Olivier’s rage and his attempt to nip this copycat in the bud.

Spell chemistry for me, please. Go on… Nope, you got it wrong. It’s spelled H-E-N-L-E-Y-A-N-D-O-L-I-V-I-E-R. Their relationship was intense, dark, scary, and fascinating. I hate comparing authors and characters, but they might be the best killer-cop duo since Hannibal and Clarice.

I also have a confession to make: at times, I felt like I was committing a crime while reading the book. What crime, you ask? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for a civilian to break into a police department and read classified / in-progress case files. Nadine’s writing and description of the investigation are that good – it actually felt like I stole a DI’s journal and read a real-life case as it develops.

Talking about real life, Matheson’s representation in the book deserves its own paragraphical phrase (I know made this expression up). Name a metropolis that isn’t multicultural. I can’t. The London Nadine delivers felt real. What’s more, she didn’t shy away from bringing to the pages real-life racism, sexism, and microaggressions minorities and women suffer every day. I hate when an author brings diversity to be “woke” with very little care for how they are representing what they intend to portrait (i.e., race, creed, religion, ethnicity, mental disorders, physical abilities, sexual orientation, family structure, social-economic status, etc.). Ms. Matheson brought an authentically diverse cast and treated each individual with such respect. It was really impactful and empowering. And at the center of it all, we have Henley, a powerful black heroine who is intelligent, driven, dedicated to her child, flawed, strong, vulnerable, and human. I can’t wait to see her again and really hope The Jigsaw Man was just the first on a long series.

Until next book, be the hummingbird!

Enjoyability     9

Characters       10

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        9

My total rating: 4.83

Book is mentioned in this video:


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