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Book Review of Mayhem, by Sarah Pinborough

Title:  Mayhem
Author:  Sarah Pinborough
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books
Pub Date:  2013
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths


Mayhem, by Sarah Pinborough is an Urban Fantasy story set in London during the time frame of Jack the Ripper’s murders. Although some of the characters are involved with investigating Jack’s slayings, this book does not focus on that nitrous serial killer. Instead we follow Doctor Bond as he investigates not only Jack’s killings, but another set of slaying that are, if anything, more sinister and disturbing than Jack’s.

Doctor Bond is a troubled man. He pines for a sweet engaged woman far too young for him and is also in the throws of losing the battle against opium addiction. Add to this the horror of seeing the victims of two sets of killers, both of which the police can not stop, and it is easy to see how he might be losing his grip.

At first things seem as normal as any drug addict hunting dual serial killers life could be, but when Bond meets a strange priest with a withered arm and later a disturbed Polish hairdresser, he is exposed to the idea that there is a supernatural cause to the string of second killings. These men claim that an evil creature called an Upir has attached to a host and is making this host commit these horrible atrocities.

The plot is told from several points of view, which gives the reader a well rounded feel for the tale, but does primarily focus on Dr. Bond. This is done while still keeping the outcome a secret, so the reader can piece the mystery together as Bond struggles to. The characters are rich here and it is easy to become immersed into gas lit London.

Drawbacks are hard to spot in this one. It is a bit of a complex plot. I would not suggest reading this one in bursts over time or it could be possible to lose the thread of the tale. It is a good page turner and would be best to read on the faster side so every detail is clear. There are also some leaps in time which, particularly near the beginning, are a little disorienting.

Pinborough’s London is a drab scary place that is well set for Horror. An inventive monster keeps us interested and guessing. Mystery readers that do not mind a scare would enjoy this one. Also horror lovers that like things more subtle and atmospheric would also find this to their liking.

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Michael D. Griffiths


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