Move over, Sherlock Holmes! Dr. Bond is on the case! When a serial killer who seems to be a copycat of the notorious Jack the Ripper terrorizes the streets of Whitechapel, police surgeon/detective Dr. Thomas Bond is convinced they are dealing with someone who is NOT the Jack which police are searching for. The murdered women are killed and dismembered in a similar way as the Ripper killings, but Dr. Bond finds minutiae details indicating they have another killer on their hands. The police focus on the Ripper case and Dr. Bond becomes obsessed with this new killer, so much so that he can barely eat or sleep until he solves this case.

Mayhem is an amazing yet terrifying murder mystery and suspenseful detective story by author Sarah Pinborough. The characters are so lifelike and Dr. Bond’s similarities to Sherlock Holmes are uncanny. I found it interesting that Pinborough modeled this character after Sherlock in a story set during the Ripper murders of long ago, as I know that Arthur Conan Doyle was alive and working in London at the time of the killings. I had always wondered if the Ripper murders had influenced his Holmes stories in any way. I also know there was a similar string of murders taking place in Whitechapel at the time of the Ripper murders. I had to wonder if there was a copycat killer on the loose. Both men – Jack the Ripper and this other killer – were never found. It was interesting to read a possible explanation for who the killer could be from a fictional perspective. And what a possibility it turns out to be! The creature was scary and I definitely looked over my shoulder many times as I read this chilling story.

Mayhem is the kind of novel that revisits a terrifying chapter of history with even more terrifying results. The story pulls readers in and takes them along on a mystery that is hard to step away from until the very end. I recommend this novel to fans of Sherlock Holmes, as well as anyone who enjoys a good detective story.

Book Blurb for Mayhem

“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.

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2014 5.00