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THE JIGSAW MAN
by Gord Rollo
Lose some limbs
For some dough.
Crud they lied.
With a snip and a whack there’s insanity ahead.
Look where they re-sewed your head.
After Mike Fox’s wife and son were killed in a car accident, he wasn’t able to deal with his remaining daughter. Years later, Mike lives on the street, drinking to forget, and his daughter wants nothing to do with him. The day he decides to end his life, a stranger offers him two millions dollars for his right arm. A good amount to give his daughter.
But once inside the castle, Mike, and the other homeless men offered a similar deal, find out Dr. Marshall wants all their limbs, and other things. Dr. Marshall’s on a quest to graft his son a healthy body, thanks to a few “donations”….and a trial run on Mike.
The doctor’s love for his son keeps him from being a completely evil, two dimensional character. This isn’t true of his second-in-command, Drake. Drake is pure, twisted bully, and Mike’s primary nemesis. There’s no limit to how much sick pleasure Drake derives from torturing others, which I enjoyed. But like Mike, Drake thinks and acts like a 13 year old - the entire book, which is repetitious, predictable, and irritating. The best, most interesting villains are much like you and me, aside from apathy or disregard for the standard set of morals.
The action scenes were great, and I truly lost myself in them. They take up about half the book, which alternated between those fun scenes, and predictable dialogue, or, more often, Mike’s thoughts. I didn’t need the thoughts explaining the crystal clear motivations and emotions demonstrated in the action scenes. "I was scared. I knew he had to be stopped. I knew I should have kept walking, but I didn't care. I had to stop him for good." (not a quote from the book, just paraphrasing the gist of Mike’s thoughts.)
The internal monologues revealed a character who felt and thought much like a teenage boy, rather than a grown man living in emotional pain. Actually, most of the rest of the male characters reminded me of teenagers. Ruled by immature emotions rather than mature decisions. I didn’t care about most of the characters. There wasn’t enough there to connect with. But I did like the nurse who befriends Mike, and the doctor’s son, because I could see into their heart, and compared to the other characters, they seemed real, torn, and grew through their problems more maturely than the rest.
Fortunately, the book alternates between monologue and action. So I skimmed the boring bits to hurry over to the interesting parts, which I enjoyed tremendously. The book would have been half as long, but, I think, a better read, because Gord does know how to take a bad situation, and turn it into a thoroughly enjoyable nightmare (this is why we like reading horror books, right? To escape into impossibly horrible situations, and back out again.)
Another irritation was that nearly all of the words have only one or two syllables. The entire book was that way, not just the action sequences, where short words help drive the action.
So between the action, the text slowed down my reading, because the words didn’t flow properly. The staccato wording actually kept me from reading as fast as I wanted to. I kept tripping over them. It was distracting.
Again, half the book was irritating, and the other half a great read.
Editing the excess, filling out the characters, and rewording the text would have made this a really good book. It has an interesting plot that continued with an enjoyably horrendous spiral.
3 Book Wyrms
This review copyright 2008 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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