Chilling. Just chilling. And mesmerizing. Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough captivated me thoroughly. Grisly murders set in late 1800s London baffle Scotland Yard and terrorize the city. Combine that with a Police Surgeon who is rapidly becoming addicted to opium, a self-flagellating mysterious holy man, and a Polish Jew with visions of evil and you now have Mayhem. I buzzed through this book in a flash, couldn’t put it down!
Pinborough magically weaves the lives of the main characters together as they combat a murderer and evil itself. Dr. Bond, our hero surgeon, is wonderfully, humanly flawed due to his dependency on drugs to cope with the depravity he sees each day while brilliantly able to relate to the wealthy and poor alike. He is very likable and I would enjoy reading his adventures in further novels. Aaron is a poor man who teeters on madness as his visions swallow his life and alienate all those around him. The third corner in this triangular alliance is a fanatical holy man, hell – or heaven – bent on fighting and killing the demon that haunts the killer.
We are introduced to the killer in bits and pieces, feeling alternate emotions of aversions, fear, and pity. Our killer remains human even when controlled by his tormentor, which for me, makes him far more interesting than an imaginary supernatural beast killer.
The grimy, dark back alleys of the less fortunate come to life as the unlikely trio hunt for murderer. Pinborough gives us an atmospheric backdrop for the shivery events that repeat themselves throughout the plot.
Perhaps less thought out was the holy man. I could have used more background to flesh him out. Although as is, he remains very mysterious, a wraith-like character always hiding in the shadows. Also, the ending fell a little short for me; I would have liked a tad more wrap up. I was happy with the outcome, I just wanted more.
All in all, a great compelling, gripping story!