Book Review: MAYHEM

PrintE-mail Written by Scott Varhnam

Review: Mayhem / Author: Sarah Pinborough / Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books / Release date: April 25th

In the 125 years since the Jack the Ripper murders, authors of all kinds have written scenarios in which their characters encounter Jack and given reasons why the killer’s true identity must stay buried. Good thing that there’s none of that here, as Jack is mentioned in passing but nobody knows who he is. The story is set around the same time as the murders but focuses on a different killer entirely (known as the Thames Torso Murderer), one who really did roam the streets of Victorian London and whose murders were never solved.

When writing a murder mystery/thriller, there is a fine line that one has to tread. You have to judge precisely how much information to give the audience. You don’t want to leave them with the sense that the final reveal comes out of nowhere; at the same time, you don’t want to give them too much information, or the reader will go out of their mind with boredom waiting for the detective to get wise to something they worked out about 300 pages ago. Fortunately, Mayhem treads that fine line well. Not completely flawlessly, but those who don’t tend to guess ahead or scrutinise every character upon their initial appearance will find a lot to surprise them here.

Upon reading the phrase ‘Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon’ on the back cover copy, we hoped that he would introduce himself with that turn of phrase in the manner of Frank Drebin at every opportunity he got. Sadly, it was not to be. He made up for not fulfilling our personal whims and desires by being a compelling and believable hero, although his heroic stature is let down a bit by the decision that he and another character make at the end. But with the character returning for future tales, we hope that he’ll be atoning for that decision in the near future.

Far be it from us to suggest that we hope this book causes mayhem in bookshops but we just did, so deal with it.

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