Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

The year is 1887 and all is not well in London.  Jack The Ripper is stalking the streets of Whitechapel, and the city lives in fear, waiting for his next attack.  Then something unthinkable occurs.  Another woman's body is found, or at least her torso.  Is this Jack's work?  Then another torso is found, and it becomes clear when comparing the cases that there is not just one, but two, killers stalking the streets and killing young women.

Sir Thomas Bond is the medical examiner assigned to both cases.  He realizes that the cases are not the same, and he attempts to move past the routine autopsy work he does to try to understand the mind of each killer.  As he struggles with this dilemma, he finds his daily routine shadowed by a man with a withered arm.  He searches to discover who this man is, but what he discovers sends him reeling.  This is a priest of a secret sect, one created to fight the monsters that still inhabit the earth.  Along with a recent Eastern European immigrant, he searches for an evil that is centuries old.  Bond can't believe that such things exist and fears he is going mad.  Yet as the crimes mount he comes to the realization that these men are correct and are seeking an ancient evil.

This evil is the Upir.  It has existed for centuries, attaching itself when possible to a man who then carries out it's hideous work.  Between hosts, it lives dormant in rivers and other bodies of water, sometimes for decades, but it never dies.  It has come to London from Eastern Europe, where the barber had horrendous visions of it.  It is attached to someone here who is carrying out the Torso Murders.  Can Bond, the priest and the barber find and destroy it before it kills again?

Sarah Pinborough has used the details of a historic case, that of the Torso Killer, to weave her novel around.  Like Jack The Ripper, the Torso Killer was never found and his murders remained unavenged by justice.  Actual newspaper articles from the time are scattered throughout the novel, some from London newspapers and others from other countries, even smaller cities throughout the United States.  It is impossible to imagine how the discovery of what was known as the first serial killer was perceived at the time, but it was a worldwide event.  Pinborough's retelling of the Torso murderer's crimes in the same period provides an interesting historical horror/mystery.  This book is recommended for mystery readers. 

3 comments:

Wendy Unsworth said...

This does sound very interesting and the cover is chilling!

Book Bloggers International said...

How does this book compare to Alex Grecian's The Yard?

Sandie said...

It does have a similar feel to The Yard, but also feels more on the horror side of things. Less procedure, more suspense. Both are great; I love this time period.