Sarah Pinborough caught my attention years ago with her novel “Breeding Ground” which was both scary and frantically-paced while still being a full developed and engaging tale. It has been a long time since I have been able to read another book by Pinborough so I was happy to get a copy of her latest novel, “Murder,” and eagerly tore into the book.
Dr. Thomas Bond is a police surgeon in London toward the end of the 19th century. His life had been thrown into turmoil as his involvement in the Jack the Ripper case had hit home for him on a personal level and left him broken psychologically. He is well on the road to recovery now and believes that he has forever put that mystery behind him. Little does he know that the terror has only begun.
Even as Dr. Bond seems to be almost recovered and on the way to a bright future with Juliana, a woman he loves and the widowed wife of his friend’s son that he helped nurse back to health after a troublesome pregnancy, his world soon begins to warp around him and the stress of life seems to become unbearable. Bond uncovers a shocking truth from his friend’s past while a rival for Juliana’s affections enters the scene. Bond soon finds himself succumbing to hidden, violent impulses that will change his life and the lives of those he loves forever. Is Bond to become a successor to Jack the Ripper or is there something even more sinister at play?
For the opening page of “Murder,” I was drawn into the world that Pinborough creates and found myself completely engrossed in the story. The novel comes to life through Pinborough’s description of Victorian London and I felt as if I was in the story rather than just reading about it. It was if I was traveling through London from the gentrified areas of the city to the lowest slums of the opium dens and bars. She does a great job of presenting the reader with fully developed characters that seem to live and breathe as well as cope with the same problems that the reader encounters in everyday life. Pinborough uses historical facts and characters that are easy to relate with to create a completely immersive world in this novel and I found myself captivated by the setting and characters as much as I was by the story.
As for the story, Pinborough weaves together the history behind the story of Jack the Ripper with a healthy dose of imagination to create a novel that is both terrifying and entertaining. This is the best that the mystery genre has to offer mixed with a healthy dose of horror. I was shocked by Dr. Bond’s terrifying ordeal and yet Pinborough handles it with a deft hand that keeps the story from sliding completely into the world of the surreal. There are definite undertones of the supernatural in this book yet the reader is left wondering if the supernatural is in play or if it is just the delusions of a weak and drug addicted mind. The pacing of the story is near perfect and it keeps the story moving along even though the amount of detail and description in the story could have easily bogged it down. I found myself alternately horrified by what was happening and enchanted by the characters and setting that the real world ceased to exist for a time. This is historical fiction at its best as well as one of the better mystery novels that is likely to be published this year.
I would like to thank Jo Fletcher Books and Edelweiss for this review copy. “Murder” is available now.