The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson is the second in the series featuring Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley.
We pick up where we left off after The Jigsaw Man and Henley and her colleagues are still grappling with their lives being put at risk and a killer potentially on the run. We’re straight into the action however as the team picks up the case of a murdered pastor who had no shortage of enemies.
by Nadine Matheson
Series: Inspector Anjelica Henley #2
Published by HQ
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
When Detective Anjelica Henley is called to investigate the murder of a popular preacher in his own church, she discovers a second victim, tortured and tied to a bed in an upstairs room. He is alive, but barely, and his body shows signs of a dark religious ritual.
With a revolving list of suspects and the media spotlight firmly on her, Henley is left with more questions than answers as she attempts to untangle both crimes. But when another body appears, the case takes on a new urgency. Unless she can apprehend the killer, the next victim may just be Henley herself.
I liked Henley though didn’t remember detail about her young child, struggling marriage and simmering (past) romance with her boss. Matheson easily gets us up to speed however so if you’re a newcomer it won’t matter.
I noted in my first review that I hadn’t realised Henley was black until it was mentioned part-way through the novel. I’m not a visual reader (ie. I never visualise characters or places) and it made no difference to me either way of course, but it doesn’t discount that race comes into play – in her work and in society in general. I noticed here for example, though it’s not pivotal to the plot in any way, Matheson shines the light on racism in a way that’s depressing because it’s so common and often brushed aside.
The team is offered two cases for the price of one here and – though there’s an obvious connection – there’s no evidence that the crimes themselves are related. It’s only when searching the church buildings after finding the murdered pastor, that Henley comes across the almost-dead young man who’s been locked away. And soon they come across other less-lucky victims with the same tortured bodies and odd injuries.
I very much enjoyed this. Of course there are themes around religion and Matheson’s not really very sympathetic to the zealotry we see on offer. The pastor – we learn – had many aliases and a penchant for young women. His wife tended to ignore his (ahem) peccadillos and liked the finer life. But people came to them for help and Henley and her team have to work out how closely the tortured victims were linked to the church and its pastor.
I enjoyed this but think it was longer than it needed to be. I also lost track of some of the characters and had to keep flicking back through pages to remind myself who they were. (Not the key characters of course, but those questioned by the police or related to victims or the church.)
That aside, I’m enjoying this series and particularly like Henley, her partner DC Salim Ramouter as well as her boss and other colleagues. Matheson also ends this with an interesting turn of events so I’m certainly keen to see what comes next.
The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson was published in Australia by Harper Collins (HQ Fiction) and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.