Mayhem - Archieved Post

May 23, 2013 - 1:55 pm No Comments

Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Page count: 343pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Occurring at the same time as the Jack the Ripper murders, in the heart of London, the Torso Murders were committed by a serial killer during that period of mayhem. The Torso Murders, as the name suggests, involved a number of mutilated torsos being found in the city, missing arms, legs and heads. In her novel Mayhem, Pinborough takes these factual events and weaves them into a compelling story of death and the supernatural.
The novel, told through a series of viewpoints, starts in Nov 1886 in Paris, where the torso of a woman is found on the steps of a church in Mountrouge. From the outset in Paris to the streets of London, the novel evokes atmosphere and authenticity. Pinborough uses excerpts from newspapers to create her tale. You are engaged from the off, particularly when Dr Bond starts to narrate in 1888 at the height of these murders. The narrative is gruesomely poetic and visceral as the reader discovers much of the bowel and the female internal organs have been removed. Detectives obviously wonder if it is him, Jack, committing these atrocious murders, and talk of an atmosphere of wickedness in London.
Amongst the characters we also meet dirty and weird barber Aaron Kosminski, who has dreams and visions of blood, reluctantly working with Dr Bond and a Jewish priest to find the killer. To investigate, and fuel; an addiction, Dr Bond drags us through the opium dens of the city, partaking of the drug to offset the bloody sights he has seen.
This novel is quite simply, brilliant. It immerses you into a decadent and wicked period of London’s history, tantalizing the reader and teasing us with the identity of the killer. Dr Bond is a fully formed, flawed anti-hero who returns to play some more in the sequel Murder in 2015. I cannot wait!

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