Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Binding Room, the brand new chilling thriller from Nadine Matheson. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Jigsaw Man, and was really curious to see just how the author could possibly follow such a strong debut. My thanks to publisher HQ for the advance copy via Netgalley. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
In this room, no one can hear you scream…
The Serial Crimes Unit are called in to investigate when a local pastor is found stabbed to death. As DI Henley assesses the crime scene, she discovers a hidden door that conceals a room set up for torture – and bound to the bed in the middle of the room is the body of a man.
When another body is found, also tied down, Henley realises there’s someone out there torturing innocent people and leaving them for dead. But why?
There’s nothing that connects the victims. They didn’t know each other. Their paths never crossed. But someone has targeted them, and it’s up to Henley and the SCU to stop them before they find another binding room…
Well … If you wanted to know how you follow up a story like The Jigsaw Man, the answer appears to be with a story which is equally as disturbing, intriguing, suspense laden and full of tension, that’s how. From the very beginning the author taps into those chills, the ones that pique the interest whilst crawling down your spine. You know that something very unsavoury, something not quite right is in play, but the what whys and wherefores remain just out of your reach, almost guaranteeing that you are going to keep turning those pages until you reach the dark, twisted and somewhat unexpected conclusion.
I was intrigued by book one, by understanding how dark and depraved the eponymous Jigsaw Man might become, but there is something almost pedestrian about the depravity in this book that makes the reality of what we are reading seem even darker, at least to me. Whilst we are perhaps used to the bog-standard (if there is such a thing), loves to ramp up the gruesome, serial killer, the like of which is thankfully extremely rare on our shores, seeing the way in which the story unfolds in The Binding Room seems scarily plausible, taking an everyday situation, one which is becoming more and more a topic of discussion in the wider community, and amplifying it to a point of tragic inevitability. Add in a touch of religious fanaticism of almost cult like, americanised proportions, and you know that the scene is set for a very dark and troubling investigation.
I do like the way in which Nadine Matheson has continued to develop the characters within this series. DI Anjelica Henley is a very troubled soul, with a difficult situation at home, exacerbated by recurring panic attacks driven by what occurred during the first book. I won’t say too much about that, but it’s fair to say that the investigation has taken a toll, and whilst it does not derail her from the task in front of her this time around, it does often amplify her reactions and creates challenges she really doesn’t need. Alongside her we have DC Salim Ramouter who has his own set of issues to deal with on a personal level, the least of which is his recovery from injury from the previous case. They make a great team, working well together and drawing me into their worlds in a way that makes me as curious to learn about them as much as the case. Nadine Matheson has created two very likeable, authentic characters, easy to spend time with, and ones that I am am completely invested in as a reader.
The main premise in this book surround the topic of mental health, one which is reflected in both the investigation and the personal lives of our protagonists. The subject is handled in a careful, respectful way, whilst also highlighting the dismissive and almost aggressive way in which certain characters view the issue. The way in which radical thought and extreme beliefs can lead to manipulation by those who spot a weakness that they are all too ready to exploit. There are scenes in the book which will make any person cringe, ones that may make you want to look away but that will also pull you in with a kind of morbid curiosity. There is a strange mixture of characters I quickly loathed and felt contempt for and others I could understand it not entirely sympathise with, their actions infuriating at times and downright anger inducing at others. The author has done a brilliant job in capturing the story in such a way that is does create this wide range of emotions without ever alienating me as a reader. I wanted to see justice done. And I’ll admit, I was kind of there for the darkness too. Who doesn’t like a dark thriller?
Pacing is spot on and the tension ebbs and flows but never really leaves the page. There is a constant undercurrent, that sense that there will be a new discovery, a new atrocity, just around the corner, and an ever present sense of jeopardy for one very innocent party to this whole case. it’s safe to say the the only Holy (holey?) thing about this case, is the Pastor after he finally meets his maker. Did he get his just desserts or is he another innocent victim? You’ll have to read to find out.
Dark, twisted and pulsating with tension, it’s another cracker from an author who really knows how to hit their mark. Recommended.
About the Author
Nadine Matheson was born and raised in Deptford (one of the murders in The Jigsaw Man takes place five minutes from her front door) and is a criminal solicitor. Nadine is also a winner of the City University Crime Writing competition. The Jigsaw Man was her first crime novel, and was loved by readers around the world. The Binding Room is Nadine’s second novel featuring DI Henley and the Serial Crimes Unit.