Exclusive: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson Excerpt

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We are so excited to bring you this exclusive excerpt of The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson!

About The Jigsaw Man:

A serial killer and his copycat are locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Can DI Anjelica Henley stop them before it’s too late?

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?

Drawing on her experience as a criminal attorney, debut novelist Nadine Matheson delivers the page-turning crime novel of the year. Taut, vivid and addictively sinister, The Jigsaw Man will leave you breathless until the very last page.

Frolic-Exclusive Excerpt:

‘We tried to report her missing on Friday night, but they said that we had to wait 48 hours. Why 48 hours? I told the woman at the counter that there was something wrong, but no one cares about a black girl going missing.’ 

Henley saw Ramouter flinch, but she didn’t. It wasn’t the first time that she had heard those words “No one cares about a black girl”; She had echoed those words herself throughout her life and career.

Khalifa looked up at Henley with angry red eyes. Looking at her as if she was responsible, as though she could have done more. Khalifa’s wife, Ndidi, sat next to him and reached for his hand. She hadn’t said a word since she opened the door to Henley and Ramouter. Just silent acceptance when they showed her their warrant cards. 

They weren’t the only ones in the house. A man who looked to be in his mid-fifties sat on a tall backed chair in the corner of the room. Khalifa had introduced him as their pastor and he eyed Henley cautiously. She knew that internally he was asking why a black woman had chosen to work for them? The rest of the family – an aunt, an uncle, a family friend and a boy and a girl who were no more than fifteen and sixteen had been sequestered into the back room. Through the closed door, Henley could faintly hear someone crying. 

‘No one cares,’ Khalifa said again. ‘And they did nothing.’ He pulled his calloused hand away from his wife and she clutched the gold crucifix around her neck. They were probably in their early seventies. The room they were sitting in was clearly the ‘good room.’ The hoover had left faint lines in the oatmeal coloured carpet. The couch cushions were still firm, hardly sat on. The room smelled of Pine furniture polish and sandalwood air freshener. Against the far wall was a fake mahogany sideboard covered with framed photographs. Children. Weddings. Degree certificates. Babies. Graduations. All proudly displayed. A photograph of their granddaughter showed her in a graduation gown and holding scroll, a mortar board balancing precariously on top of her long braids. Her smile was large and bright. Henley could see the mixture of excitement and anticipation in her eyes.

‘Uzomamaka,’ Henley said gently. 

‘Zoe,’ his wife spoke for the first time. ‘Her voice, filled with pain, carried a hint of a Nigerian accent that had anglicised over time. Henley couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. 

‘Uzomamaka,’ Khalifa said stubbornly. ‘Our grand-daughter. She always came home. Always. She was a good girl. Not running around the streets. She always came home. She was training to become a midwife. She could have been a doctor, but she said no.’ His wife nodded in agreement.

‘When was the last time that you saw Zoe,’ asked Henley. 

Ndidi reached for a black leather bag and pulled out a slim red diary. ‘I always put Zoe’s shift times in my diary. On Friday, her shift was 6am to 6pm but sometimes she finished later. They’re short staffed.’

‘How long had she been working at Lewisham?’

‘Almost two years now. She started at Park Royal Hospital but that was too far. It used to take her almost two and a half hours to get home. It takes her about an hour to get home from Lewisham. She didn’t have a car. If she had a late shift Khalifa would sometimes pick her up.’

‘But she didn’t come home?’

Khalifa shook his head. ‘Sometimes the traffic makes her late. I called her phone, but it went straight to voicemail. My son texted her but nothing. At eleven o’clock we went to the hospital, but no one had seen her. I went to the police station. They refused to report her missing. They said that maybe she was with her boyfriend.’

‘Her boyfriend? Do you know his name?’

‘Daniel. I can’t remember his last name.’

  ‘Was it Daniel Kennedy?’ asked Ramouter.

  ‘I don’t know.’ Ndidi looked confused. ‘Maybe. I’m not sure.’

  ‘He was a bad influence,’ Khalifa shouted. ‘Uzomamaka was a good girl. She went to work, and she went to church. She was a good . . .’ His shoulders collapsed, and he let out a guttural wail. 

The pastor, who had been sitting silently, got up and gently lifted up Khalifa by the arm. ‘Maybe some air will be good for him,’ he said. Henley nodded her agreement.

 

‘She loved him, and he loved her very much,’ Ndidi said as soon as the door was closed. ‘Daniel wouldn’t have been my choice but… What can you do?’

  ‘How would you describe their relationship?’ asked Henley.

  ‘They seemed happy.’

‘Happy?’ Ramouter seemed surprised. He bent his head as Henley shot him a disapproving look.

‘Yes. Happy. I mean, she didn’t talk about him all of the time. Zoe wasn’t like that. She was discrete.’

‘You weren’t aware of any problems?’ asked Henley.

‘No. I don’t know how things were in the beginning. She didn’t tell us straight away that she was seeing Daniel.’

‘When did she tell you.’

‘About a year later.’

‘How long have… Had they been together?’

‘I’m not too sure. A couple of years. Maybe three. I’m not too sure.’ 

  ‘They didn’t live together?’ Henley asked. 

‘No.’ Ndidi’s eyes were filled with water but the tears did not fall. ‘They were planning to. They had found a flat near Zoe’s work but after all of the trouble, they couldn’t move there because of his bail conditions so they had to wait. Have you spoken to him yet?’

Henley shot a glance at Ramouter. ‘I’m afraid that Daniel Kennedy is dead,’ she said.

Ndidi’s hands flew to her mouth. Her eyes widened with shock. ‘I don’t understand.’ 

‘His body was found on Monday morning in Deptford.’ 

Ndidi began to cry. ‘Who would do such a thing?’ She reached into her cardigan pocket and pulled out a tissue. ‘Why would they…why?’ 

‘I wish that I could tell you, but I honestly don’t know,’ Henley said. ‘That’s why we have to investigate. Did Zoe mention anything to you? Anything that would have made you concerned about her safety?’ 

Ndidi began to cry again and Henley let her. 

‘If there was anything,’ Ndidi said after a minute had a passed. ‘I would have told you. She was a good girl, but who knows. She kept Daniel a secret for so long. Who knew what else she was keeping from us?’

‘Were you worried about her? Being with Daniel.’

‘No. Not at all. He’s not the man that I would have chosen for her, but she promised me that he was a good man.’

‘What about her work? Any problems?’

Ndidi shook her head. ‘She loved her job. She loved to help people. She wanted to bring life into the world. How could anyone want to kill her for doing that?’

Henley’s throat tightened. ‘We will find who took Zoe away from you,’ she managed to say.

Ndidi got up and walked to the mantlepiece. She picked up a photograph of a smiling baby. ‘When can we bring her home?’ she asked, gently stroking the glass. 

Henley hated this question the most. There was never a satisfactory answer, because the truth was that she didn’t know. 

‘The police didn’t care when we said that she was missing,’ said Ndidi. ‘You need to promise me that you will not let Zoe be forgotten.’

Henley could hear her old boss’s words echoing in her head. Rhimes had repeatedly told her “Don’t make promises to the family that you can’t keep. This ain’t about you.” 

‘I promise,’ said Henley. 

About the Author:

Nadine Matheson was born and lives in London. She began her working life at the BBC and now practices as a criminal defence lawyer. In 2016, she won the City University Crime Writing Competition and completed the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller Novels) MA at City University of London with Distinction in 2018.

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