Book Review: The Jigsaw Man

The Jigsaw Man (Gord Rollo, 2012) – Abandoning suicidal thoughts, a desperate vagrant jumps at the offer of two million dollars for his right arm. Little did he expect that his arm was only the beginning…

Verdict

Gord Rollo sutures a vividly appalling nightmare in his sharp debut, where shock and intrigue triumph over medical veracity and character depth.

3/5

Review

Broken, homeless and desperate. Michael Fox resolves to trade his bitter life for a $20,000 insurance payout to his family. But when a reclusive surgeon offers him $2 million for his right arm, he starts to believe that his life may turn around. Sloughing off initial doubts, he jumps at the chance. Dismissing his instincts turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life. 

A man in despair meets the catalyst for his rash decision; The Jigsaw Man presents a fairly brisk and skeletal set-up to the anticipated nightmare. Within a few fast-paced chapters, the leisure read spares no hesitation. It lunges at the reader, unveiling its unsparing intent – to shock, terrify and unnerve. 

This is immediately fulfilled. Akin to any mad scientist fiction, the opening pushes for the most vivid and bold depiction of surgical madness. Of reanimated heads and limbs, perceptible anxiety begins right at the doorstep of Fox’s new home of doom. A persistent freight train soon corners Fox in his inevitable fate. 

In gruesome medical experiments of human harvest, Fox is taken apart and put back together again like a modern-day Frankenstein. The seemingly illimitable surgery lacks credibility, but no doubt serves its sinister purpose. Fox’s diminishing autonomy, along with his chances of escape, sends shivers down our shuddering spines with grave effectiveness. 

The page-turner has us wade through a cesspool of human degradation, out of bugging curiosity that overtakes any trace of distaste. Every word is written to disgust and indubitably succeeds, with little intention to release its grimy grip. Sexual deviance and body horror meld like acid on flesh. The writing is sharp, accessible and above all, unadulterated by political correctness.

Author Gord Rollo however relinquishes depth, only lightly grazing the implied and fascinating themes of humanity. Less interested in provoking thoughts than dread, the cursory exploration limits characters to forgettable archetypes who evoke little sympathy.

As most characters promptly end up casualties, such lacking depth and back stories can be overlooked. No holds barred, the uncompromising exercise in pure terror will ensure horror enthusiasts be arrested forthwith even if revisits are unlikely.

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