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"A compulsively readable story that starts as a conventional murder mystery and morphs, by degrees, into a horrifying supernatural thriller," The Guardian said of Mayhem.
A virtuoso fantasy writer, Sarah Pinborough has won numerous awards including the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. In Mayhem Pinborough turns her attention to one of the most baffling and notorious crime sprees in Victorian times.
Already frustrated in their attempts to capture serial murderer Jack the Ripper, the detectives of Scotland Yard are suddenly confronted with a new monster, dubbed the Torso Killer for his habit of leaving behind neatly wrapped parcels of his victims' body parts, minus the heads. With the terrible increase in mutilated corpses to examine, the highly regarded police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond has lost the ability to sleep. True, a growing dependency on opium affords him some solace in his loneliest and most desperate hours, but he also fears the grip of the drug.
During Dr. Bond's nightly tours of London's underbelly in search of pharmaceutical respite from the horrors that plague him by day, he encounters a mysterious Jesuit priest scouring the opium dens himself, clearly in search of someone--or something. The doctor at first rejects the strange priest's unnatural theories about the Torso Killer as an affront to scientific thought. But over time Dr. Bond's opium-addled mind begins to crumble under the growing impression that there might be some awful truth to the Jesuit's ideas.
As the police struggle to capture two serial killers, the troubled forensics expert begins to suspect that he may actually know the Torso Killer personally. If he is right, Dr. Bond will need all the strength he can muster to save his small circle of loved ones from falling victim to the bloody depravities of this twisted creature.
lack of the head to be more haunting than if it were there, her dead eyes glaring at me for this analysis of her person. ‘And a strange method it is, too,’ Charles said, peering closely at the large cavity at the base. ‘Why not just cut off her legs? It would have been an easier task than this. Less to clean up after too.’ The body had been separated about an inch below her navel, as if bitten in half by some great sea monster. ‘I presume he wanted to get to her internal organs – those ones we
whoever he might be, was the whole of London’s business, and there were newspapermen better connected with the police than he who would get any information first. Not that there was much danger of that. ‘Those bloodhounds turn anything up?’ Waring’s eyes were sharp, but still Moore said nothing as he downed half his beer. The newsman would be paying for their drinks; that was always the unspoken agreement, and he intended to make the added time on his working day worthwhile. He was tired, and it
shall try a different one every night until I find the winner.’ She smiled at me, evidently relieved. I had no desire to tell her that all these ‘tried and trusted’ remedies were old wives’ tales, or that I had tried each already – she was trying to help, in her innocent way. I doubt she had missed more than one or two nights’ sleep in her entire life. If there were a remedy for my sleeplessness, it would not be found in this book – and it dawned on me that maybe I did not want it found just
confusion. I imagined it was Harrington. This was not the self-deprecating young businessman I had met last year. I had no desire to go home and sit alone with my thoughts, so I decided to call on Juliana and the Hebberts instead. I was now almost part of the family; they would not object to my arriving unannounced. My concern was obviously for Juliana; the way Harrington had immediately jumped to the conclusion that I had come about her implied that he had done more than just politely ask her
stuff clinging to them— —the heads. Inspector Moore had wondered what he did with the heads, and now I knew: he kept them, of course: his trophies, something to gloat over. There were too many here, though – fifteen, perhaps – so how many more poor women had we never discovered? Where were their remains? In one corner of the trunk was something else, a different shape, set aside from the rest of the gory clutter. The head had been severed from the body and the stomach sliced open, but it was