Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Gord Rollo
Published by Leisure Books
Now this is the kind of novel I’d love to see Leisure pick up more of, though to be fair the sheer uniqueness of Jigsaw Man is what makes it such a fun book. I guess it would just be nice to see Leisure (or perhaps their authors) taking more chances on weird stuff like Jigsaw Man.
Our story opens with Michael Fox, a man who once had a wife and two children but lost them because of a car accident one rainy night when he was too drunk to drive. His wife was on the way to get him, she crashed, and her and his son died. His daughter now will have nothing to do with him and he’s living on the streets.
Finally he’s decided enough is enough. Every 12 hours a large freight train comes by the lean-to he and some other homeless people are hunkered down in, and today he’s just going to lie down on the tracks and wait for the train to bring an end to his suffering.
While he waits on the tracks, a man shows up in a limo and offers him two millions dollars. All he has to do is donate his arm to a scientist who’s gone rouge, insisting the medical establishment doesn’t understand him; he’s performing his own experiments on tissue regeneration and revitalizing cells with his own money in a very remote location. He just needs some willing volunteers who will give a piece of their bodies to become very rich.
This situation serves to instantly thrust the reader into the story because no matter what, you’d have to ask yourself what you’d do. Rollo is a natural storyteller and is able to put you in he head of Fox almost immediately, so when these circumstances arise you’re hanging on every word waiting to see what happens.
Of course he takes the deal, wouldn’t be much of a story if he just laid back down on the tracks, and of course he finds out far too late that, while this scientist is indeed a genius, he’s also completely insane. Fox tries to escape but is never able to make it far enough away and every time he thinks his situation couldn’t get any worse, it does. Having both arms cut off is bad. Loosing both your legs on top of it is worse. But being reduced to only a head? Just try and imagine it.
Rollo does, and makes you believe it every step of the way as only a gifted author can manage to do. Really, the situation Fox finds himself in is terrible, but it’s also incredibly ridiculous in any realistic sense, so it’s important to establish the rules of this universe early on, which Rollo does fantastically. You never once doubt that it’s possible to be reduced to just a head (or less) and still live, because you’re so engrossed in this universe that to doubt would be to remove yourself from it, and then you’ll never find out how it ends.
For a debut novel, this is about as good as it gets. Adventure, horror story and mystery all mixed with a wry wit and a sharp sense of irony that will more than likely have you laugh out loud at inappropriate moments. Leisure’s stuff seems to have been in a slump as of late, but Jigsaw Man is a definite keeper. Don’t pass it up!
4 out of 5
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