Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough begins a two-volume journey into the unsolved Thames Torso murders of the late 1800’s. One curiosity is that the narrator, Dr. Thomas Bond uses “half-past ten” instead of the traditional “half ten.” Dr. Bond has been having trouble sleeping as news of Jack the Ripper spreads through Whitechapel and he now has his own Torso case starting up. He uses opium to help him sleep or just get by in 1888.
Back to 1881 to meet a fifteen-year-old Aaron Kosminski, a Jew, running from his dreams, his gift of vision he received from his grandmother. Fleeing to London stops his dreams. They flee because as Jews and as the pogroms in Europe continue, they will be blamed for the death of Tsar Alexander II. Then in 1886, in London, the visions come back and he portends evil, which takes the form of Jack and this other murderer, the Torso murderer.
Finally there is the priest, the mysterious Jesuit priest seeking the evil force. He uses high-grade opium to finely tune his senses and ability to feel and sense the evil.
The first intersection of our heroes is when Dr. Bond and Aaron meet. “I shall have an adventure” is the call of the day as the trio goes monster hunting. “He (Aaron) was a monster seeking a monster.” Finally the two decide they must find the priest. The monster they seek flows into the victim through water since it resides on the river’s bottom until it is hungry and then it surfaces. Love the metaphor? The evil is named upir.
London is in mayhem as Jack the Ripper terrorizes Whitechapel and the Torso Murder is silently dismembering women and collecting heads. This is the goal of terror, mayhem and we have it in spades. The evil hunters are on the trail as we watch them approach the ultimate goal. Now Juliana will have her baby in peace, we think. As Aaron aptly wondered, “who was the hunted and who was the hunter.”
Now from Mayhem to Murder, how delicious.