4.3 6
by Sarah Pinborough

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"A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller," The Guardian said of Mayhem.

A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In Mayhem Pinborough turns her attention to…  See more details below


"A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller," The Guardian said of Mayhem.

A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In Mayhem Pinborough turns her attention to one of the most baffling and notorious crime sprees in Victorian times.

Already frustrated in their attempts to capture serial murderer Jack the Ripper, the detectives of Scotland Yard are suddenly confronted with a new monster, dubbed the Torso Killer for his habit of leaving behind neatly wrapped parcels of his victims' body parts, minus the heads. With the terrible increase in mutilated corpses to examine, the highly regarded police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond has lost the ability to sleep. True, a growing dependency on opium affords him some solace in his loneliest and most desperate hours, but he also fears the grip of the drug.

During Dr. Bond's nightly tours of London's underbelly in search of pharmaceutical respite from the horrors that plague him by day, he encounters a mysterious Jesuit priest scouring the opium dens himself, clearly in search of someone--or something. The doctor at first rejects the strange priest's unnatural theories about the Torso Killer as an affront to scientific thought. But over time Dr. Bond's opium-addled mind begins to crumble under the growing impression that there might be some awful truth to the Jesuit's ideas.

As the police struggle to capture two serial killers, the troubled forensics expert begins to suspect that he may actually know the Torso Killer personally. If he is right, Dr. Bond will need all the strength he can muster to save his small circle of loved ones from falling victim to the bloody depravities of this twisted creature.

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Editorial Reviews

London nights are more frightful thanks to Jack the Ripper, but a new serial killer runs loose in the East End. Unlike the Ripper, this slayer is no artist of homicide; he simply picks his female victims, murders them, then butchers and decapitates them and discards their headless carcasses into the Thames. Sarah Pinborough's Victorian crime thriller possesses supernatural elements that only add to the suspense. (P.S.: The author is one to watch: She has won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and Best Novella, and been shortlisted for Best Novel, not to mention World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards.)

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Mayhem 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
In the late 1800s, while the terrifying and mysterious Jack the Ripper is plaguing Whitechapel another killer is on the loose, ‘The Torso Killer’. Scotland Yard detectives are swamped with bodies and call in Dr. Thomas Bond, the police surgeon who wrote the first criminal profile. Dr. Bond has issues with insomnia and turns to opium for relief, even though he worries about his dependence on the drug. One night in his favorite opium den Dr. Bond notices a priest watching those in the throes of the chasing the dragon. Following his instincts, he discovers the priest’s secret mission to find the truth behind the Torso Killer. Mixing elements of history and dark fantasy, MAYHEM is a detailed police procedural set in the Victorian Era. I think some of the subtlety of the plot is lost in the overly detailed descriptions, even though the detail paints everything in a spotlight while still hiding it all in shadow. I enjoyed the flawed genius of Dr. Bond, an opium addict with an insatiable curiosity. While MAYHEM starts off slow, when the action picks up readers will be fascinated to follow Dr. Bond and the priest down the rabbit hole.
Stardust_Fiddle More than 1 year ago
Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough—4.5 stars As Jack the Ripper roams the streets of Whitechapel, another, even more depraved serial killer seeks his victims. The police are frustrated and baffled as more and more women’s torsos turn up, with the rest of their remains—except for their heads—often found in the Thames. This leads to the murderer’s moniker: the Thames River Killer. Dr. Thomas Bond examines the victims in an effort to discover something that will shed light on the perpetrator. Insomnia claims him to a greater extent as the months pass without answers, but the worst is yet to come. When rumors of a possible supernatural connection filter in and challenge his rational nature, insanity threatens as the menace draws near to his personal life. Sarah Pinborough’s “Mayhem” is a chilling and engrossing horror novel set in 1880s Victorian London. During Jack the Ripper’s infamous killing spree, another, perhaps lesser-known, murderer was stalking the area and claiming similar victims. Referred to as the Thames Torso Murders, these homicides likewise went unsolved and were in fact more hideous in their execution than even those of the Ripper. Pinborough uses this bit of history as the premise of her novel, creating an unsettling backstory for this macabre murder mystery. She draws upon historical figures to craft her tale, including Police Surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond and Ripper suspect Aaron Kosminski. The shifting viewpoint of the narrative adds to the disconcerting effect of the story itself by exploring several characters throughout the novel, all of which are related in the third person except for the accounts of Dr. Bond, which implement first-person narration. The book is similar in nature to the Order of the Sanguines series written by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, with a mature adult target audience. There is a certain degree of gory description, but it is not overwhelming and is handled well, relying more on psychological suspense than on a shock factor. Reproductions of authentic newspaper articles concerning the killings appear interspersed between the chapters and enhance the historical feel of the novel. Readers who enjoy atmospheric suspense and mystery with a supernatural element and a Victorian London setting will want to add “Mayhem” to their reading list.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
We are taken to the time of Jack the Ripper, but this story is not about him. This is about the Thames Torso murders, a series of murders that happened around the same time but with enough variation that the police figured they were a separate killer. Thomas Bond is a police surgeon that is part of the discovery of the first torso in the New Scotland Yard vault. Thomas, Aaron Kominski, a suspect in the real Jack the Ripper murders, and a priest are paired up to find the killer, but this is not just a plain serial killer, there is a paranormal twist that helps add to the thriller aspect. Thomas is insistent about using science to explain the murders but the priest has a thrilling paranormal creature that he thinks is the reason for the deaths. I saw the synopsis of this story was based with the Jack the Ripper murders so I thought this would be great. Little did I know, I was up for one heck of a ride with a completely different killer. I loved Thomas. He was so realistic and kid of reminded me of Johnny Depps character in From Hell. I loved how realistic the setting was. You can tell a lot of research went into this story. I loved the newspaper clips, they really added to the feel of the book. Although the story bounced around between people and different perspectives, I had no trouble following it. I really loved this book. If you like mysteries/thrillers you will want to check out this book. Now I’m going to read Pinborough’s other books to see what else I have been missing. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a nice read. The story has a few main characters . The story starts off nicely then goes into a lot of details about each character and how they all interplay in each others lives. Has a nice supernatural twist in the story, which made the story that much better and you don' t know who the murderer is until much later in the story. I would love to see this made into a movie. Question; what of the baby? Never answered.Wonder why?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_Word More than 1 year ago
This was an easy read, and kept me up at night to keep on turning pages. Can't go wrong.