Jigsaw man by Elena Forbes

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Text, 2015. ISBN 9781922182616
(Age: Mature readers) Elena Forbes' latest novel is the fourth in a crime series with Detective Inspector Tartaglia and the Barnes investigation team in London. The author won a Crime Writers' Association award for an earlier title. In the previous books Sam Donovan has been part of Mark Tartaglia's team, but following a traumatic attack on them both Sam has left the police force. She is, however, connected to the murdered woman whose death Tartaglia is called to investigate. The victim is Sam's sister; she is found in a hotel room strangled, and as Sam struggles to get information about the death she becomes convinced that she knows who the killer is, and that she, Sam, is his intended next victim. However, Tartaglia is off this case and is not listening to her. He is dealing with what proves to be a very bizarre series of murders in which the incinerated bodies of victims are parts of several corpses dismembered and sewn together again to look like one body. The two plot lines run parallel, and are interspersed by the thoughts and plans of a killer who is planning another murder but faces harassment from an unexplained intruder. Which killer is not clear until the suspenseful conclusion when Sam sets a trap and Tartaglia closes in on his suspects, who include a much reviled businessman, a thwarted chef and an ex-convict. The suspense builds as the reader is never sure how the three plots are connected, or indeed if they are. Forbes has a tight control of the narrative as she moves easily from one perspective to another. The murders are gruesome but this element is not dwelt upon as the interest is rather on the gathering of evidence and the interplay of personalities. The characters are believable enough, and the relationships between them are convincing but the main interest lies in the unravelling of the plots. The language is reasonably simple and the novel is recommended for mature readers.
Jenny Hamilton