Category Archives: Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough: Mayhem (Review)

The Author



Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough

Product Description

Buy the book


When a rotting torso is discovered in the vault of New Scotland Yard, it doesn’t take Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, long to realise that there is a second killer at work in the city where, only a few days before, Jack the Ripper brutally murdered two women in one night.

Though just as gruesome, this is the hand of a colder killer, one who lacks Jack’s emotion.

And, as more headless and limbless torsos find their way into the Thames, Dr Bond becomes obsessed with finding the killer. As his investigations lead him into an unholy alliance, he starts to wonder: is it a man who has brought mayhem to the streets of London, or a monster?


I realise i’m very late to the party when it comes to Sarah Pinborough, and i have no excuse, i have followed the lovely, lively lady on twitter for quite a while promising myself i would read her books. I have most of them on my shelf waiting.

Very recently i read her novella The Language of Dying, and it was stupendous, if you can say that about a book taking you on a journey towards the cancerous death of a loved one. But her use of words was just wonderful, that sublime skill must exist in her other books?

So next up was Mayhem: first i was impressed that anyone takes on writing a ripper book, but to take on a book set in Ripper London where the murderer isn’t Jack the ripper, that’s insanity isn’t it?

Sarah Pinborough, clearly drawing on the Thames Torso murders as inspiration for this second killer, she takes us on this journey following the trail of this killer through the grim dark fear wracked Victorian London back streets. We are led by the flawed but dogged Dr Thomas Bond a man who when joined by his counter parts in this tale by a mysterious priest and Aaron Kominski starts to show a depth and complexity of character that seems to be the hallmark of Sarah Pinboroughs writing, a man brilliant and yet drawn to the back street opium den, a logical skeptic but paired with a mystic and a lunatic?. While the story for me was a wonderful blend of Supernatural, thriller and crime novel, its the history, the sights sounds and smells of london (both Rich and poor) and the wonderful characters that make this book stand out. Characters that are not inflated caricatures that many writers produce when writing this period and a ripper tale, these are people brought alive through skillful writing, with real flaws and real personas.

I look forward to the next one in the series (Murder due 2014)

Highly recommended


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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction, Sarah Pinborough, Supernatural