cover image Mayhem


Sarah Pinborough. Quercus/Jo Fletcher, $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-62365-086-5

Rather than offer the umpteenth fictional take on Jack the Ripper, Pinborough (The Hidden) cleverly uses the so-called Thames Torso murders, a lesser-known series of crimes in late-1880s London, as the starting point for this terrifying novel. Most of the tale is told from the perspective of Dr. Thomas Bond, a historical figure who assisted the police with both sets of killings. Bond responds to the carnage he sees by ever-more-frequent visits to an opium den. His search for the man leaving parts of women strewn around the city, including in the basement of the new location for Scotland Yard, leads him to team with some unusual allies—and to a truth about the crimes and their connection to a Polish legend that he finds almost impossible to believe. In this chilling exploration of madness and evil, Pinborough excels at summoning up the bleak spirit of Victorian London’s mean streets and those forced to fight for survival there. Agent: Veronique Baxter, David Higham Associates (U.K.). (Jan.)