Sunday, 15 June 2008

‘Jigsaw Man’ – Gord Rollo

What would you do for a million dollars? Given the current exchange rate I wouldn’t do an awful lot but if we’re talking sterling then I would probably do a fair bit. I’m not sure that I’ve give up a limb though, not even if I could use some of the money to get a cheap replacement! Two million dollars for a limb is the premise for this short yet violent and shocking slice of horror fiction…
Mike Fox is at rock bottom and a matter of minutes away from throwing himself under a train. All of a sudden he is approached by a stranger who offers him two million dollars in cash, all he wants in return is Mike’s right arm… Mike figures that two million dollars can make up for an awful lot so agrees to go along with the deal. However, losing an arm is just the start and if losing limbs wasn’t bad enough Mike is about to find that their replacements are even worse…
I only got a couple of hours sleep last night, Nintendo Wii is partly to blame (it’s a great console to play on!) but ‘Jigsaw Man’ is the chief culprit. You see, once I started reading I couldn’t stop. Although I knew that Mike wasn’t going to do well from the deal I just couldn’t stop reading to find out just exactly what happened. Rollo did a great job of hooking me right from the start and then doling out little titbits to keep me turning the pages. His villains are a little vague for my liking, ‘Jigsaw Man’ is a short read (288 pages) and there wasn’t enough room for any real explanation about what made them tick. As a result, Drake’s perversity just seemed like an attempt to shock the audience while Doctor Marshall just appeared to be a typical mad scientist with so many scraps of information about him that it was impossible to tell what was the truth. In a sense though, the poor characterisation (in this instance) doesn’t really matter as the true horror is found in Mike’s environment and what he has to go through. Rollo is particularly adept at setting the reader up to expect one thing and then throwing something completely different in their face. I jumped more than once when Mike woke up from various operations to find that the results were not what he had been promised! What is interesting though, as a counterpoint, is that the body parts Mike loses are balanced out by his strength and determination to get through this experience. This can verge on the ridiculous (especially when he’s only left with his head and spine!) but really gives the reader a sense of character development and helps to make the final climactic scenes a little more plausible. Rollo also furnishes an intriguing premise with a chilling background for events to take place in. The home of Doctor Marshall is full of passages with dead ends where you least expect them. Certain rooms contain horrifying surprises as well, the ‘Bleeder Room’ is particularly chilling and the time that Mike spends in there is not for the squeamish (or at least, not for those as squeamish as me!).
While I can appreciate the ‘full circle’ effect behind the ending I thought that maybe the ending dragged out a tiny bit too long. There’s a point in the last few pages where I thought things would have been perfect if it had ended right there, if you read ‘Jigsaw Man’ then I reckon you’ll see it too.
Niggles aside, ‘Jigsaw Man’ is a visceral slice of horror that got in my face and left me gasping. If this and ‘Crimson’ (an excerpt of which is at the back of the book) is anything to go by then Gord Rollo is an author that any horror fan should be keeping an eye on. I will be.

Eight and a Half out of Ten

7 comments:

ThRiNiDiR said...

I never read horror before, haven't even been tempted to...until now :). What a great name - Gord Rollo, and the title - Jigsaw Man, just awesome. As an aside, what are you playing on WII, I love Nintendo; playing Guitar Hero III and Metroid Prime 3 at the moment :)

Graeme Flory said...

If you haven't read any horror then this is as good a place as any to start! ;o)
We were with some mates, who own a Wii, so we spent the evening playing tennis, boxing and ten pin bowling. My arms ache...

Trin said...

as do mine usually...but it's great fun - but we usually play golf :)

Gord Rollo said...

Hello Graeme,

I'm thrilled you enjoyed my book so much. I'm on pins and needles waiting to see what people are going to think of it.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi and thank you for taking the time to read TJM.

All my best,

Gord

Graeme Flory said...

Hey Gord,

Thanks for stopping by! Like I said, I enjoyed 'Jigsaw Man' and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in 'Crimson'...

Gord Rollo said...

Shouldn't be too long of a wait. The ARC of Jigsaw Man says April 2009 for Crimson, but I was just told it will probably be March 2009 instead.

Thanks again for your kind words. Appreciate it, man!

Gord

R.Waters said...

I bought this book in Atlanta on the way back to Afghanistan from leave. Imagine my suprise when I found that the story's location takes place in my hometown area. Great read, finished it in a day.