Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: Murder by Sarah Pinborough

Murder by Sarah Pinborough

Hardcover, 400 pages

Published January 2015 by Jo Fletcher Books

Sarah Pinborough is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, hailing from England I have gotten the impression that she has more of name for herself over there. Her career started off as more of traditional horror novelist dealing with ghosts and monsters. She still deals with these topics but her more recent works that I have read show a growth in developing high concept with a quick pace. Everything I have read has been top notch to the point that I sound hyperbolic when I talk about it. I consider her Dog Faced Gods trilogy to be one of the best things I have read in the last decade. Putting her up there with my favorite writers of our generation like Cody Goodfellow and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Unnaturally talented.

I first read her Dog Faced Gods trilogy, this series of books are my second time going into the Pinborough world. The first book Mayhem is a early leader in the best book of the year. Really since I read both I consider them as one work at this point. I am not sure if it was the surprise but Mayhem felt stronger to me of the two.

Mayhem/Murder is the story of Doctor Thomas Bond. He was involved in the real life investigation of the Jack the Ripper and Torso murder killing in late 19th century England. Mayhem is a great serial killer novel about (in part) but it has more to it than just a procedural. I am not a ripper expert (although I have friends who are) and was not aware of the Thames Torso Killer. Another very different killer operating in the area at the same time. The main character of these novels is Thomas Bond, a real life surgeon who worked for Scotland yard investigating both of the murders.

In Mayhem Bond is a troubled man who is addicted to opium, this takes him to the Opium dens in the seedier sides of London. There his mind is exposed to something that leads him to a dark truth connecting the murders. in Murder we are years removed but the events still haunt him. Without spoiling the first book Murder explores the evil behind the acts while dragging Bond even closer to the madness. Pinborough does a great job detailing history and getting the vibe of the era. The novel is historical horror that eventually gets supernatural.SP explores the real life events in the first novel and adds a supernatural explanation for the grizzly details.

Murder is pretty solid follow-up and ends the story in heartbreaking fashion. It is amazing how quickly the story wraps up but Pinborough has a skills. Her pages turn, the pacing in these novels are brisk. Normally stories set in this era feel stuffy but but the tone never goes that way. Told in clippings, and shifting point of view first person narratives this novel uses story telling tricks I normally do not enjoy. But damn if they don't work. If there is a weakness here it is one big one. Normally Pinborough's quick pace is strength but sometimes major events of the story just fly by so quick I feel like she could have slowed it down, and expanded on some of the suspensful moments and played with our heart strings even more.

None the less I think this is a fantastic novel. It is shelved as mystery, but to me this is a horror novel. One of the best of the year. Not nearly as strong as the first book was.

No comments: