Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

History is a subject that only as an adult have I learned to enjoy. While I am a fan of all eras in general, there are certain times and places that I have extreme interest in. One of those times is Victorian Era London. I have reviewed books set in that time in the past and this week’s review falls in line with them.

Mayhem brings us to London in the late 1800’s. Jack the Ripper has the city on edge as he slashes his way through Whitechapel. Scotland Yard has their hands full trying to catch him when another mass murderer arrives on the scene. Dubbed ‘The Torso Killer’ he has a habit of leaving neatly wrapped parcels containing his victims’ body parts – minus the heads. The spike in gruesome crimes has left Dr. Thomas Bond, the highly regarded surgeon working with Scotland Yard, unable to sleep. Opium offers some respite but his increasing need for the drug begins to bother the good doctor.

It is during one of his nightly trips to the seedier side of London that Dr. Bond encounters a mysterious priest who seems to be on his own search for something – or perhaps someone. At first the doctor rejects the priests theories about the Torso Killer as they are an affront to science and everything the doctor holds dear. It is only as time goes on and the body count continues to rise does Dr. Bond begin to wonder if perhaps the priest isn’t mistaken at all. And perhaps Dr. Bond knows the true identity of the Torso Killer.

Mayhem is a fascinating tale in that it is all based on real events. While I admit to being a fan of Victorian England and familiar with the Jack the Ripper killings, I had never heard of the Torso Killer. A bit of research showed me that they were indeed a real person and their killings occurred around the same time as Jack the Ripper. Further research showed me that characters in the novel (Dr. Bond, Inspector Moore, etc.) were also real people and were all involved with the Jack the Ripper and the Torso Killer cases. A bit of dramatic license was used, especially in regards to the culprit and how they were involved, but the majority of the story is taken from actual events and actual police reports.

Reviews on Amazon are mixed but honestly, I ripped through this book (pun intended). Dramatic and tense, I found it a real nail biter up to the end. At times quite gruesome it is not for the faint of heart. Those however who love a good horror should definitely pick this one up.

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