The Jigsaw Man was another book that when I asked people which book I should read from my physical TBR list received a lot of recommendations. The reviews on the blurb and the front of the book likened it to Val McDermid too which is high praise. However, I must say… I was incredibly underwhelmed.
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The Jigsaw Man tells the story of DI Henley and her return to the frontline of the police force after a couple of years out and her experience with the Jigsaw Man and his copycat killer. Straight away you’re thrown into the action with a number of bodies being found which suggests that someone is copying a killer that Henley herself helped put away years ago and caused her to need to take time out.
The Jigsaw Man plot – 3.5/5
The plot for The Jigsaw Man is an interesting one, though nothing original. The idea of there being a “jigsaw killer” with some unique ways that they mark bodies and dismember their victims but keep one part of them. It’s quite dark and I always respect when an author is willing to go a bit darker with their victims. However, so much of this book was spent reminiscing about the previous time Henley encounter the original Jigsaw Killer that it felt like I’d missed a previous book or something. It almost feels like she could write a prequel novella and that would help clear up a lot of the confusion.
I must say as well that considering all the hype this book received, it took absolutely ages to get going. I was considerably bored for the first half of the novel. I know as a writer you have to build towards the action sometimes (though I’m not sure why as it benefits no one) but The Jigsaw Man just took far too long to get going. I felt like Matheson was trying to build character depth and an understanding as to certain later events but it really just made me feel like I was wasting my time.
However, the final third of the book does pick up a lot, as is often the case with thrillers, and so I can’t say this book was a complete bore. There are some great action and tense moments in the final third that do almost make up for the utter dier first two-thirds. However, it’s just not enough ammo for me to sit here and type out that this is a great thriller.
The Jigsaw Man characters – 3.5/5
I’m not sure I could have cared less about the main character Henley. As is the case with a lot of crime thrillers unfortunately, the main protagonist is a bit of a bore as they’re often too focused on the case at hand to show us any personality. Matheson does try to bring in some elements of personality and history by introducing a struggling family story into it but it doesn’t make me like Henley any more unfortunately. She’s just dull.
However, (he drops another big ‘however’) the original Jigsaw Killer who keeps popping up is a fantastic villain. he’s clearly a psychopath (no psychoanalysis needed here to work that one out quite quickly) and a lot of the dialogue between him and Henley is great. He’s unhinged and feeds off the uncomfortableness of others including a new police recruit who he also engages with. He plays a constant part in the story as Henley tries to use him to help them find out what the copycat may be doing next/how to find them and every time he is spoken to these are by far the best conversations you’ll experience reading The Jigsaw Man and I actually ended up routing for him just because he was really the only enjoyment I had in this book for the most part.
The Jigsaw Man final rating- 3.5
The Jigsaw Man was quite painful to read for the first 150 pages or so. It was dull and the main character Henley was equally so. However, the introduction of a great and intriguing villain and a final third that picked up the action and pace was a redeemer for this book. I’m not sure I could recommend The Jigsaw Man based on how much I enjoyed it because I didn’t really. Other highly recommend it though so you may still want to give it a go, I guess.
Pick up a copy of The Jigsaw Man from Amazon here.