Cover Image: The Binding Room

The Binding Room

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Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Binding Room in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Gist
I made a big mistake. I read a sequel before reading the first part in a series. This is partly due because I didn’t do my research properly. And partly because I thought it wouldn’t be such a big deal if I skipped the first book.

How wrong I was.

It appears that I tend to get rather agitated and annoyed when something doesn’t make sense. Skipping an entire book that introduces characters would cause such a reaction.

So, I try to base this review partly on the impression I got based on the writing quality, plot etc. And I hope my clueless bias can keep quiet.

The Details
The beginning is incredibly strong and had me quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat.

For a murder mystery, this one seems a little bit more on the gory side. The descriptions of the torture and crime scene are very detailed and do not leave much to the imagination.

Reader, be warned. Those with a weak stomach, brace yourselves.

In general, I thought this story would be totally up my alley: we got a gruesome murder, London as the setting, it’s winter – perfect timing for an atmospheric mystery/thriller story – and a strong female lead.

Sadly, the setting and surrounding circumstances couldn’t make up for the incredible fast pace that put me off relatively early on in the story.

The jumps are quite brutal, combined with the fact that I knew nothing of the main characters made for an exhausting and frustrating read.

I wish I could say more about this story, but most of it slip through my grasp because I didn’t read the first book in this series.

The Verdict
Overall, I wish I had read The Jigsaw Man before The Binding Room to get a better idea of the characters and various small, but very important details.
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From my blog: Always With a Book:

Last year, I read Nadine Matheson’s debut crime fiction novel, The Jigsaw Man, and I have been waiting for the next book to come out. I love that book and so not only was The Binding Room a most anticipated read this year, but my expectations for the book were pretty high. Luckily, I can say this book totally delivers…and I just hope there are more books coming!

While this book could be read as a stand-alone, I really feel that you are going to have a much richer reading experience if you read the first book. Yes, both books are a bit on the longer side, but trust me when I say that they are totally all-consuming reads. You don’t realize how long they are once you are in the middle of them because you become so invested in what is going on.

This latest installment is really quite dark and unsettling, and I found myself unsure how all the different threads were going to tie together, but once they did, I could not read fast enough to see where they would ultimately end up. As with the first book, there are some rather gruesome scenes that we are privy to, so this is definitely not a book for the faint of heart…but I happen to love these types of books – they remind me of the Lars Kepler series, which is a huge favorite of mine. This turns into quite a game of cat and mouse as the team tries to catch a killer before someone else winds up dead, and it really kept me on the edge of my seat until the final resolution.

As the book picks up shortly after the first book ends, we see the main characters struggling to deal with the trauma they endured when we last saw them. I loved that this wasn’t brushed away or forgotten, but rather still an on-going thing. This is why I love reading series, and why I’m such a firm believer in reading series in order – you get that continued character development. It makes the characters, particularly Henley and Ramouter, all the more real and relatable. These two are also dealing with personal stuff and I loved that we see how that is affecting their work. I hope that we continue to see the progress of these side stories as the series continues.

This book kept me totally invested from start to finish. Yes, it is long, but even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. And when the pieces finally started coming together, I really had a hard time putting the book down. Nothing here is extra – everything we are given is used and it really is so mind-boggling when you stop and think back over that. I’m in awe of this author’s creativity and plotting skills and I cannot wait to see what she gives us next!
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Detective Anjelica Henley investigates a preacher's murder and discovers a barely living second victim, signs of a dark religious ritual on his skin. The inspector dodges the media and a long list of suspects, with more questions than answers. The appearance of another body indicates that if Henley can't find the killer, she might be next.

This is the second Inspector Anjelica thriller, but I hadn't read the first. That doesn't matter, because we see the fallout of the events in the first book, and the concern her husband and coworkers have for her. The pastor's murder sets off an investigation into the victims of presumed excorcisms, as well as the pastor's history. It's a franchise church with monthly memberships and meant to have a family feel, but the more information we find out about the pastor, the other board members and the victims they find, the more we realize that it wasn't what we thought it was. Henley isn't directly threatened, but her superior officer has pressure from a MP, the public is searching for salacious information and there is a lot of interpersonal drama that Henley is dealing with. Her team also have personal difficulties that affect their behavior, but it adds to the realism and camaraderie between the officers.

The mystery is fascinating and sucked me in, so that I kept turning pages and had to know what was happening next. I stayed up way too late, because I needed all the loose ends tied up. It's wonderfully done, and will get your heart racing.
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After reading and loving Matheson's debut The Jigsaw Man last year (a book I continue to recommend to my library customers), I was more than a little excited to receive an advanced copy of The Binding Room, the second book in her Anjelica Henley series.

This sequel begins in the aftermath of The Jigsaw Man as readers witness the impact and trauma Henley and her team continue to feel after the last case. Henley's team is soon dispatched to a new crime scene with a murder and a gruesome discovery and find themselves, once again, in a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a ruthless killer.

Matheson, a criminal defense solicitor in London, quickly pulls her readers into this well-paced and completely engaging police procedural. The crime scene descriptions are grisly and not for the squeamish and Matheson excels at building tension and giving readers well-developed and believably flawed characters. By including the complicated home lives of Henley and her team, readers will find themselves invested not only in the resolution of the crime but witnessing how the job impacts the personal lives of the squad.

The inclusion of societal issues of racism, mental illness and the more contentious aspects of religion add interest and are incorporated well into the story. These subjects will give book clubs great fodder for discussion.

The Binding Room could be read as a standalone, but I'd recommend reading The Jigsaw Man first for a better understanding of the impact that case had on Henley and her team and how that experience has bound this group tightly together. I highly recommend this series for fans of dark and gritty police procedurals who like to get to know the characters behind the police badge. I eagerly look forward to the next book in this series.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher Hanover Square Press for my advanced copy of this book which was provided in exchange for my honest review.
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The Binding Room is the 2nd book in the Inspector Anjelica Henley series by Nadine Matheson. I did not know this going into the book but it does stand alone just fine.  

While visiting a church to investigate the death of the pastor, inspector Anjelica Henly discovers a hidden door that leads to a concealed room set up for torture. The pastor as stabbed 48 times! In the room there was a bed, were a body is found tied to it. Then another body is found, tortured as well and its clear someone is torturing and leaving these people for dec. The victims don't seem interconnected but Henley must figure out what is going on before more bodies are lost

This book is well written with good characters that I am sure will grow on me the more I read this series.

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Hanover Square Press for allowing me to read this digital ARC.
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In The Binding Room, even the most upstanding people may have a secret or two hiding in their closets.

Pastor Caleb is the leader of the popular church he named after himself. One day, the church cleaning lady is surprised to find him stabbed to death on the church floor. Inspector Henley and her partner, Ramouter, are called out to the scene. While there, Henley finds a man tortured almost to death in a secret room. Is he the reason for Caleb’s death? Or is something even more sinister going on here? Based on the length of the book (it’s over 500 pages), assume that the second guess is more likely.

If you love diverse British police procedurals, don’t miss The Binding Room. It is spot on in both plotting and characterization. Trying to entangle the plot points to determine the murderer is complicated by more and more murder victims. It’s a great challenge for armchair detectives!

My only complaint is there is no clear and concise summary of what happened to Henley in the first book, which would have helped new readers to the series, like myself, understand her PTSD a bit better.

Overall, 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars!

Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.
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Thank you to @netgalley for my digital copy of this! 

I first have to mention-I love this cover. The colors, the image –it all just looks so deadly! I must admit, I was nervous when I saw the length of this one at over 500+ pages, but I flew through it! I loved The Jigsaw Man and our cast of characters so I knew I had to read the sequel. This can be read as a standalone but I suggest reading The Jigsaw Man first. It will help understand the characters, their background and it is freaking good too! 

Now you know my black, frozen heart loves dark subject matter. The Jigsaw Man was definitely dark and very descriptive and The Binding Room was no exception. @queennads has a way with the gore and she does a wonderful job of hooking you in with it while also including the emotional aspect of the case/deaths. It is always conflicting and she really gives you   the full emotional spectrum of the case and situation.  I also think that adding all of that extra emotion helps with this as it a police procedural and so are not fans of that. It does not necessarily read that way. It was exciting, tense and I did not guess one single twist, which shocked me. 

I knew this would be wonderful, and I was right! Grab your copy of both The Jigsaw Man and The Binding Room now!
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What's it about (in a nutshell):
The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson is a compelling, action-packed crime thriller/police procedural about exorcism, mental health, and corrupt religious leaders.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I read the first book in the series, The Jigsaw Man, so I expect more of the same or even better. The cover is intriguing, with a rope running through the title. The cord + the title makes me think of a room for tieing people up with the string, and considering the genre, this is somewhat terrifying. The blurb is even more frightening, talking about dark religious rituals. So, I am expecting a terrifying thriller with well-developed characters.

Actual Reading Experience:
My actual reading experience was much as I expected. The Binding Room is another engaging and compelling installment in the Anjelica Henley series. It can be read as a standalone, though you will appreciate the character development more if you read the series in order. My attention was grabbed from the first page and, even though it's over 500 pages, held me spellbound until the end when all mysteries are solved. The pace stays fast throughout and is compounded by shocking twists and turns. I did not see any of them coming until right before they were revealed though I did note some oddities that turned out to be clues.

I loved that racism and feelings toward mental health disorders are included, and how they are handled is extraordinarily effective. Never does the author take a moment to preach to the reader. She simply tells of the experiences as the character responds. This manner left a strong impression and gave me much to think about long after the book ended.

The plot is complex and developed with great attention to detail, making it a solid five-star read. The team led by Henley must solve multiple murders that are interconnected and equally horrifying. Police procedurals can be relatively dry, but not when written the way both books in this series are written. The characters come alive on the page as their personal stories are told, along with the mysteries they must solve. The lives of these characters are very complex and important stories that can stand on their own.

Characters:
All of the characters are well-developed and intricately layered, especially Anjelica. I love her strength and determination all wrapped up in the flawed package that makes her a character I was quickly drawn to. The interactions between her team members feel authentic, as do her exchanges with her husband. They are good, and they are problematic. They build her up, and they distract her. All the complexities experienced in real life are brought to the page with a vividness and poignancy that touched my heart as I read.

What It Reminds Me Of:
The first in the series – The Jigsaw Man

To Read or Not to Read:
If you love mystery/thrillers, even if you are not partial to procedurals, this is a book you won't want to miss. You will love the characters, have your mind expanded by pertinent issues in the story, and ultimately feel that even 500+ pages are not enough of this incredible world.
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Thank you net galley.  What a read!!!  
A pillar of the community is found dead and so begins the search to find the killer(s).
Detective Anjelica Henley is called to investicate a murder, she finds more then the murdered pastor.  She finds a young male victim in a secluded room while searching the church for evidence.
The list of suspects is long as each one has a motive to do the crime(s).
A very suspenceful read.
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This is the second thriller in the 'Anjelica Henley' series from this successful British author. The first book was "The Jigsaw Man "and while this new one can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading "The Jigsaw Man" first to get the most out of the series. This is a traditional thriller, with a significant amount of gore, as opposed to the very popular psychological thrillers.  In this one when Henley is called out to investigate the murder of a preacher, she also finds a man barely alive in a locked room, who has been bound and tortured. The bodies pile up and Henley faces charges of racism when it seems that more time is being spent on the case of the tortured white man, than the black preacher.  The author said this book was inspired by news stories of exorcisms gone wrong.  This is a fun read and a great recommendation for fans of both her previous thriller and "The Chestnut Man".  I really enjoyed it.
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The Binding Room by Nadine Mathison is the second book in the Anjelica Henley series. I was so excited to read this one after having loved The Jigsaw Man. This book met every expectation I had. Henley is professional and a main character that is easy to like and root for. You can absolutely see that Matheson knows her stuff and keeps everything informational but interesting. The crime was chilling but there was never gratuitous violence.
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Now THIS is how you write an engaging police procedural! I'll admit that I was nervous glancing at the 500+ page count before diving in, but I enjoyed The Jigsaw Man enough to give the sequel a try, and by the end of the book I felt like I wasn't ready for it to be over. If that doesn't scream 5 stars, then I don't know what does.

The book picks up in the weeks following the conclusion of Jigsaw Man, and Anj and her team are feeling the remnants of trauma caused by Olivier, while also needing to dive headfirst into a new case that is both gruesome and disturbing. I'm not one to get squeamish while reading these types of books, but I definitely felt like the author did a fine job of including just the right amount of gore to hook the reader into feeling both sorrow for the victims and anger toward the monsters responsible. Also? I didn't guess a single one of the twists, not one.

While this can be read as a standalone, I think it was more meaningful knowing the characters ahead of time to feel connected to their personal life plot threads. I'm still thinking about this book days after finishing and know it will be in my top ten reads for 2022!
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- 4.25 Stars - 

Nadine Matheson has done it again! She left me clinging to every word and dreading having to put down this book! I was a big fan of the way everything fell together at the end. While I had a feeling I knew who did what, I was still pleasantly surprised when the killers were revealed! 

This book leads out with DI Henley as she follows up with the murder of Pastor Caleb Annan and the mystery behind a young man being found in a tortured and malnourished state in a hidden room within the church. It leaves you wondering what on earth was going on in that building??? 

One murder leads to another and another, so Henley is left running around London trying to figure out who did it and what the heck was the motive? Toss in a missing/kidnapped child and you’ve got an incredible twisty-turny mystery. 

This thriller was wonderful, Henley is an awesome FMC to be following along and the random chapters from the victims point of view were such epic additions to the storyline. I will definitely be keeping up with the future books by Nadine Matheson! 

Thank you, @netgalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review! All of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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I enjoyed this book tremendously. I thought that Henley and her partner were wonderful. I was blown away by the many twist and turns to get to the conclusion. I was very intrigued at how the writer explained the many jumps and cartwheels that the investigation needs to go through before the law even determines a subject. The graphics language used when it came to the villain and his victims was very exceptional. The book is a definite page turner that was very entertaining.
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Anjelica Henley is back in good psychical shape after the ending of The Jigsaw Man while still recovering emotionally.  This richly graphic story of a notorious church,  pseudo exorcisms,  corrupt religious leaders, institutional and every day racism is difficult to read in places and even more difficult to forget.  Nadine Matheson  gives us real world politics shrouded in an excellent and well thought out thriller. Can’t wait for the next installment.
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Sometimes you start a book just to check the style of writing. Sometimes you think that you will only read some pages and then, some hours later, you turn the last page after having read it in one sitting.
This is what happened, it was a long and adrenaline fuelled ride that kept me on the edge till the last page.
It starts with a bang and it's a like series of fireworks, unexpected twists, and a solution that I never saw coming.
I loved it, loved even the goriest and most horrific parts.
It's a disturbing, gritty, and gripping story that brought me to some very dark places and never let me stop reading even when I was thinking this is too much.
There's a lot of sufferance, there's a respectful approach to mental health issues, and there's a lot of empathy toward the victims.
There's something truly terrifying in this story and there's a lot sufference.
DI Henley and DC Ramouter are suffering from their personal issues with their families and from the PTSD due to the torture of a serial killer. I wasn't a fan at the beginning but they grew on me and I loved their humanity and empathy.
Ms Matheson is master storyteller and deliver a gritty and gripping story, a page turner I could stop reading.
It's highly recommended.
Many thanks for this ARC, all opinions are mine..
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I think I have pretty thick skin. I have been through a lot of stuff and usually, it takes a lot to make me flinch. Let me just say, this author made me flinch…. multiple times! Wow

I also have to say when I closed this book, I told my hubby that this author has some twisted thoughts in her head! LOL-But oh, what a storyteller she is!

The Binding Room deals with deep dark levels of extremists in a Christian church. If you can get past the prologue you may have a chance to experience it.

This book truly is an experience you will not forget. It is an addicting story filled with seriously gruesome crimes and some twisted people. It is completely engrossing and warped. The character development is amazing. The plot and craftsmanship of the writing are superb.

The fact that I did not read book one was of minimal consequence. Mostly we miss personal issues and another gruesome crime, but in terms of the overall plot, this was easy to follow.

If you are a crime junky with a taste for the extreme, this is a must-read for you. The whole book is a trigger warning!

Why 4 stars from me? Because I am a wimp and could not handle some of the extreme descriptions of the crimes. I would classify this in the horror genre, personally.
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After a solid debut and start of the Inspector Anjelica Henley series last year, I have been looking forward to return for more. I like it when a detective thriller series is able to offer a refreshing angle, and this series seems to be doing exactly that with the focus on race and discrimination and a black female detective lead. I fully expected to have an excellent time with this sequel as well, and there were certainly parts of The Binding Room that were very successful, but overall sadly I personally didn't find it to be as strong as her debut. I'll try to explain why below.

First of all, I have to say that I can still really appreciate the focus on race and discrimination. I'm all for diversity and in a way it's strange that we don't see a diverse case of detective leads and other supporting characters more often; both in race, nationality and beliefs. I don't think I've encountered a series with a black female detective lead before, and Anjelica Henley is without doubt a fascinating character. The focus on the discrimination the different characters have to face both inside the police and during the investigation is realistically developed and can be a true eye-opener. That said, I do think The Binding Room took things a little too far with too much focus on the racism and discrimination, which can end up having an opposite (and negative) effect. While important, too much of the same angle can get repetitive and it can distract from the original message.

Now comes something that is a personal pet peeve: the religious angle. I'm never a fan of religion in a story and while there is no real preaching and it's more of a cult-like religion focus, there was just something about this element that made me enjoy the story less. This has mostly to do with my personal aversion and not with how it was incorporated into the plot though. What I also found highly frustrating was the focus on the cheating element and the love triangle vibes not related to the murder investigation; they distracted from the plot, were in my eyes completely unnecessary and they were one of the main reasons why this sequel didn't work as well for me. It also made me like the main character considerably less...

The cast of characters is a diverse and interesting bunch with each of them having their own background, past, issues and secrets. It is highly recommended to read the first book before starting The Binding Room though, because this sequel jumps right in without giving you any pointers on what happened before... And you will be missing out on key background information otherwise. The case itself is fascinating and there are many twists and turns involved as you try to discover the truth behind the Caleb's death as well as the other victims. The twists were quite effective as well, because I never guessed the full truth until it was finally revealed.

I do have to say that I think that The Binding Room is way overlong and could have benefitted from eliminating certain elements and sideplots. The pace wasn't always consistent and certain parts started to drag considerably... A more condensed story with a tighter plot would have made a much bigger impact. That said, I know that I'm in the minority and most people do seem to love this sequel a lot more. If you like your detective thrillers with a refreshing angle and don't mind what I've mentioned before in my review, this series might just be a great fit for you.
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The Binding Room was my number one most anticipated book of 2022 so I was ecstatic to get an advanced digital copy from the publisher!  Thank you Hanover Square Press!  With that being said, I was almost nervous going into this one, hoping and praying that it would live up to the perfection of Matheson's first book The Jigsaw Man and I am happy to report that it did!  It absolutely did! 

There are so many elements to gush about with this book and this series.  First off, it was a delight to get to spend more time with Inspector Henley and her humble and lovable partner Ramouter. Book two gave even more personal story to these two characters and I loved getting that vulnerable side to each of them and I look forward to reading more about them in future book in the series. 

The plot of The Binding Room left me in awe of Matheson's ability to string together so many loose threads that all add to the plot and the mystery, without any red herrings.  Every piece of information has a place somewhere in the mystery.  Nothing is left to waste, and I absolutely love that.  Nothing annoys me more in a book than to have an author spent copious amounts of time and pages feeding the reader clues that end up having nothing to do with the final outcome.  I always feel like I wasted my time with a book like that.  The Binding Room obviously does not do that, Matheson is an incredibly talented crime fiction writer and I would compare her mysteries to the  Lars Kepler Joona Linna series, in case you need a good reference.

This book is a long one, but it is so worth it. I will always read any crime fiction Matheson puts out!  I have a feeling she will soon become one of the household names in the genre!
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Having not read the Jigsaw Man not sure what I was getting into reading this book.
Twist and turns but following it was hard for me.
I just didn't love it. 

Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for an early release of this book.
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