The Jigsaw Man
by Leigh Goodison
Sheffield Publications

"Although it hadn't been much more than a peck on the lips, the kiss was almost as blasphemous to a doctor/patient relationship as a kiss between a priest and his parishioner. Forbidden territory."

An unusual quandary is at the axis of this involving whodunit. Has a physical medical procedure so altered the patient’s mental state as to render him irrevocably different than he was before his operation? In this instance, looks may not only be deceiving; they might also be deadly.

Thea Donovan is a brilliant reconstructive surgeon who has developed a synthetic skin application dubbed Reflesh. It promises heretofore unheard of help for patients who have been hideously scarred by burns or other forms of facial trauma. The process provides a surgically applied mask that literally renders the victim’s looks as good as new—perhaps even better—or perhaps excellent on the outside but evil on the inside.

When Thea’s inaugural patient begins to show signs of near schizophrenic behavior, a psychiatric colleague sets out to scuttle her breakthrough. Soon the patient vanishes and the colleague is murdered. As the hunt for the human guinea pig ensues, other bodies begin to turn up. Is a freshly minted serial killer now on the loose? Or is something even more disturbing at play? Hoping to right the wrong she might have unintentionally caused, Thea sets out to learn more about her patient’s past. Her quest uncovers tangled relationships and long buried secrets that put her own life in imminent danger.

As with some thrillers, you may unravel the mystery before the heroine does, but the pace is brisk, the story entertaining, and the dénouement satisfying enough to make this fictional puzzle worth solving.

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