Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Publisher: jimmy patterson
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Apart from the stunning cover, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco simply caught my attention for two reasons: Jack the Ripper, and the idea of having a well-to-do girl go about trying to solve the murders through rational thought and science, rather than being the bumbling dumb fool had me super intrigued. Though she was a foil, she was never bumbling and the man she was a foil for, sweet Lord preserve me I have no idea how Audrey Rose had the strength to keep him at a distance for as long as she did.
A modern feminist girl in Victorian London, Audrey Rose dreams of doing more with her life than attending society parties. She glories in her escapes to her Uncle’s laboratory where she dissects corpses and tries to help him solve crimes. Through Audrey, we get some of the most poignant lines in the novel, thoughts I think are rarely thought when anyone talks about Jack the Ripper, or indeed any serial killer that preys on prostitutes. She actually tells the men to stop thinking about these women as simply prostitutes. Audrey realises they are humans that have families and are valid people. This is brought back to attention when Thomas is berated for buying corpses.
Audrey Rose has attitude and spunk, but also just the right amount of softness. She isn’t a heroine that needs to be cruel to succeed, but also isn’t one to simply play coy to try and pry answers out of a man. I mentioned earlier she wasn’t a bumbling fool, she did play the role of the emotional woman, foiling Thomas’ detached coolness. Though normally I would be a bit annoyed at women and men having to play such “conventional” roles when it comes to emotion and rationality, in this time period, it works.
Though Audrey Rose was a fantastic character, Thomas stole the show for me. He was absolutely witty, devastating charming, and from what I could gather, extremely handsome. If Maniscalco decides to write a second book, I would love to see more of them together, to see not only how their partnership as “professionals” plays out, but how a romance could unravel.
Pacing was great. It never felt too dull, nor did it feel too fast. Maniscalco took a risk working with such a well known serial killer, but it paid off for her quite well. It was obvious she had done her research. Characters were solid, and though the culprit was a bit predictable, there were moments of insecurity where I thought perhaps I was wrong and it actually was x or y person instead. One flaw, however, was having that police offer/commander in talks with Audrey Rose’s father to wed her. I felt like it just detracted from the story and was thrown in there simply to try and put a wrench in the Audrey/Thomas relationship, which it never did. Otherwise, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco was a great, but gruesome read. However, definitely not for the faint of heart.
Quotes & Excerpts
“Oh? Where in a medical dictionary does it say a woman cannot handle such things? What is a man’s soul made of that a woman’s is not?” I teased. “I had no idea my innards were composed of cotton and kittens, while yours were filled with steel and steam-driven parts.”
Three: Tea & Autopsies
Death was not prejudiced by mortal things such as station or gender. It came for kings and queens and prostitutes alike, often leaving the living with regrets. What might we have done differently if we’d known the end was so near?
Three: Tea & Autopsies
“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”
Four: A Dance with the Devil
“I’ve tried in my own way to protect you from the harshness and diseases of the world. But men — and young women — weren’t meant to live in gilded cages.”
Thirty: Death to Life