A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Rather than offer the umpteenth fictional take on Jack the Ripper, Pinborough (The Hidden) cleverly uses the so-called Thames Torso murders, a lesser-known series of crimes in late-1880s London, as the starting point for this terrifying novel. Most of the tale is told from the perspective of Dr. Thomas Bond, a historical figure who assisted the police with both sets of killings. Bond responds to the carnage he sees by ever-more-frequent visits to an opium den. His search for the man leaving parts of women strewn around the city, including in the basement of the new location for Scotland Yard, leads him to team with some unusual allies—and to a truth about the crimes and their connection to a Polish legend that he finds almost impossible to believe. In this chilling exploration of madness and evil, Pinborough excels at summoning up the bleak spirit of Victorian London’s mean streets and those forced to fight for survival there. Agent: Veronique Baxter, David Higham Associates (U.K.). (Jan.)