by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Untitled Trilogy #1
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
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.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco is the first in an unnamed trilogy. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at BEA and obtaining a signed ARC. Stalking Jack the Ripper was an engaging, dark, twisted and clever historical mystery that takes place in Whitechapel in the late 19th century as a young woman, along with her Uncle and his apprentice work to catch Jack the Ripper.
“At times the darkness in his eyes terrified me more than the dead we butchered.”
Serial killers fascinate me, and Jack the Ripper is one of my favorites to explore. With so many theories and unanswered questions, this gruesome historical event lends itself well to fictional mysteries.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is marketed as a young adult historical mystery but I would emphases this is for the older end of readers in this age group. Mystery lovers over seventeen would enjoy this well-developed tale.
Superintendent Blackburn shook his head, his fair hair catching the light of the sun. “I’d inquire about the weather, but I’m sure you’d like to speak of other things, Miss Wadsworth.” He squinted toward the body, shielding his eyes with his hand. “Seems our boy gave us two more victims.”
While the author took some liberties with the Ripper historical timeline and added some of her own, she stayed true enough to the crimes gave authenticity to her fiction. As a reader, I quickly found myself immersed in the macabre atmosphere of this tale. I enjoyed the subtle humor and romance served as a side dish to the murder mysteries.
Despite my annoyance at the author’s continual reminder that Audrey was brilliant, our young protagonist, Audrey Rose Wadsworth, was indeed clever and brilliant. A young Watson in the making. Audrey’s Uncle is a professor and mortician who studies cadavers and at times aids law investigations. Audrey prefers sawdust at her feet and a scalpel in her hand to society’s norm of tea and chatter about perspective husbands. I found Audrey to be likeable, and admired her stubbornness and refusal to conform to society’s expectation of her.
“Not to mention, the subject matter was hardly appropriate for the dinner table. Discussing missing ovaries then asking him to pass the salt would be revolting for anyone, let alone a girl of my station”
Maniscalco brought nineteenth century London to life in vivid detail. We got a sense of not only the panic that the “Whitechapel Murderer,” dubbed the “Leather Apron” by the press but also received a glimpse into scientific advancements in the world of forensics. She brought opium dens to life, took us into the walls of Bedlam, and fed us deliciously gory accounts of the brutal murders. We even explore experiments made famous in Frankenstein. Laced throughout the book are period images that enhanced the tone of the story.
Without hesitation, I dragged the scalpel from one shoulder to the sternum, taking pains to push as deeply as I could. My brows raised a fraction before I schooled my face into an unreadable mask. Human flesh flayed easier than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t much different from cutting into a pork loin prior to its roasting, a thought that should have been more disturbing than it was.
Thomas, the young apprentice to Audrey’s Uncle reminded me of a young Sherlock Holmes. I admired his appreciation for Audrey’s skills at deduction and brazen drive to discover the identity of the Ripper. A truly modern thinking young man he encouraged Audrey and saw nothing wrong with her desires to explore forensics. The interaction between these two was delightful, laced in snark, and at times maddening. Whenever these two engaged it was a test of wits as they tangoed. It was quite fun to watch.
There was a subtle hint of romance that didn’t distract from the case, but offered a splendid diversion to the darker more gruesome aspects of the tale.I am looking forward to seeing how this relationship plays a role in the next book.
The mystery was engaging and well-developed allowing the reader to become invested in both the mystery and the characters. The author cleverly wove her story around historical facts lending an authentic feel to the case. While I had a hunch about who the killer was early into the story that proved to be correct, I delighted in working alongside our heroine and hero.
“The dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”
Stalking the Jack the Ripper delivered a dark and twisted mystery while delivering characters we cannot help but admire from their brilliant minds to their quip thoughts. I will be curious to see what the next book in this trilogy brings.
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I’m definitely intrigued by this! A smart heroine, serial killer villain, Sherlock-esque characters! Yes, please! Happy to see you enjoyed this! Great review Kim!
I think you would enjoy this one Cyn 🙂
I am definitely reading this one as soon as I can! I love books like that 🙂 Great review, K.!
Yay, I hope you love it. I have had such fun chatting with you about books the past two days 🙂 We enjoy so many of the same books 🙂
What an awesome premise, I’ve always had a strange interest with Jack the Ripper stories, definitely need to pick this up at some stage!
Hehe…Connie you are not alone..I too am fascinated by the case.
There was a time when I was really fascinated with the Jack the Ripper case. You review has really piqued my interest. I may have to read this if I ever get through my pile. I really enjoyed your review!
I find serial killers fascinating particularly Jack, I hope you decide to try this!
I’m very sad I missed this one at BEA, Kim. It sounds like a great story! I love historical fiction like this that doesn’t shy away from the gritty, dark elements. I just added it to my cart. 😉
Bummer, but hopefully you will add it eventually!
Yey, I’m glad you liked this one! I really loved it. It’s such a great book and I can’t wait for the next one. I hope we both will enjoy that one too.
And now we wait Erin!
I prefer a lighter read however I have come to trust your reviews and will give this one a go…:-)
I am flattered..I think you will find this fall in-between since it is at the end of the YA spectrum.
My thoughts on this one echo yours almost exactly. I enjoyed the mystery and the real-world details that were added to the story. Like you, I guessed early on who the killer was, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the road to the reveal!
Yes, great minds think alike and all that..LOL
Did the story wrap up in this one where the next book could be another story or will these characters/story carry on through the whole trilogy?
The way this ended led me to believe we will be spending more time with these two young characters.
I have been excited for this book for a while now! I love almost any Jack the Ripper retelling, so I’m glad that you enjoyed this one! Great review! 🙂
I am the same way Anna..enjoy!
I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about this one, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s funny though, because I’m not usually into historical fiction, but I really want to try this one!
Sounds morbid, but good!
A lot of folks who aren’t into historical, are drawn to ones that surround famous events, crimes etc. Jack the Ripper is certainly one that makes us all morbidly curious.
Ooohh! I have this one on preorder, I can’t wait! I keep seeing so many GOOD review for it.
Yay, you will have it soon! I look forward to hearing what you think 🙂
OOh nice! I was bummed that I missed this at BEA, but considering it was madness I’m not blaming myself too harshly! LOL! This one sounds awesome! I was always intrigued with the Jack the Ripper murders, so naturally my schools never taught me anything on it! LOL! Definitely cannot wait to read this one! Great review!
I cannot remember whether or not it was a ticketed signing, but it was in the autograph area.
Sounds like an interesting plot for a story!
It was, thanks Christine!
The Bibliophile Babe
I really want to try this one! I totally agree how annoying it is when we’re constantly reminded abut how brilliant the heroine/hero is – if they’re that brilliant, I shouldn’t have to have that beaten into me!
Agreed, hopefully others mention this in their reviews and the author tones that aspect down.
Love reading about all things Jack the Ripper; and though what you mentioned would annoy me as well (at least she is clever, though lol), there’s a lot here that I would love. Mystery with a side of snark for the win! Thanks for the great review and have a wonderful weekend <3
I find the case fascinating and this was well spun
Well of course I want to read this one! I have always had a fascination with Jack the Ripper. I will have to wait until I can get it at the library because I refuse to pay $10 for a Kindle book:)
Eep..the hardcover is 12.00 I understand,
I’ve found two historical mysteries that tackle the Jack the Ripper murders and they made me want to read more. I didn’t know about this one and it sounds great that the heroine, setting, and plot are strong.
Any chance I get I grab books about Jack 🙂
Melissa (Books and Things)
Love the cover and this sounds amazing! I also get annoyed when you have to be constantly reminded that the heroine is intelligent. Ugh. However, I think I can deal with that given that she IS intelligent. 🙂 I also love the sound of the interaction of Audrey and Thomas. They sound like a couple I would enjoy. Yea, I do think I’ll like this one. Brilly review as always!
Yeah that kept it from a higher rating, but let us hope the next book doesn’t do that.
I could use more mysteries in my life so I’m glad that I read your review of this book. It’s going on my list. Thanks Kim!
“At times the darkness in his eyes terrified me more than the dead we butchered.” — good writing!
Keep hearing good things about this one so I need to make time to read it. It’s sitting on my TBR pile. 🙂
Glad it’s in your pile!
I plan on reading this one as soon as it comes out! It sounds so good. A perfect book for the month of October I think. 😀
Perfect fall read Kay! Enjoy 🙂
I am definitely going to have to pick this one up! I’ve always been interested in all things involving Jack the Ripper.
You are not alone, I am oddly drawn to the case.
I have heard a lot about this book! Great review. I am curious about it. I went on a Jack the Ripper tour when I went to England back in 1991. It was creepy.
Oh I am jealous….creepy but I would love to go on that tour 🙂
I just finished this one and really loved it. I did see Thomas as a young Sherlock; his interactions with Audrey Rose were great.
Yay, I am glad you felt that connection too Lauren.
I too am fascinated by the whole Jack the Ripper case. This looks very interesting, and I am pleased to hear that the world building was done well.
I think you would enjoy this Heidi. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂
Hmm, I don’t favor YA but this sounds like pretty dark and gritty subject matter, so just because the MC is a teen, it shouldn’t automatically be labeled a certain way. Funny, I’m currently on a historical fiction mystery binge, and all the books I’ve been reading concern some form of forensics, dissection, post-mortems, etc. but in a much, much lighter vein.
Perhaps since I’m reading in this genre already I should read this one. Thanks for a good review that made me understand it all the better 🙂
Yes, the YA is a teen but keep in mind she is of age to marry. This I would dubb 17+
My favorite time of year to read this genre, so of course I can’t wait for this one. Great review!
Me too Lekeisha..enjoy!
Kim this book sounds quite interesting, Anything with the backdrop of old London and Jack The Ripper is a must read. I am adding this one to the NERL (never ending reading list) 🙂
I am the same way about the Ripper!
Lovely review. This book is on my TBR but I think I need it now after reading this. 🙂
Oh awesome…enjoy Di!
this sounds really good but gah they shelved it in YA, yeah pretty heavy duty stuff for kids. Good call Kim and great review! I’m putting this on my list
Thing older end of YA., so 17+
I’ve heard this was a slower moving story but I’m glad it is still a really good one as well. I need to grab a copy!
I can agree but everything was so fascinating to me..lol
I almost got this one at BEA, but couldn’t because I was busy getting another book I wanted more… Maybe Heartless? Anyway, it sounds like I really do need to pick it up! Glad you enjoyed it (even with the constant reminder the MC was brilliant… That bugs me too).
Not Heartless, because I have that as well..but I had a ticket, so maybe you were in line at the booth? It is very good, maybe on audio…I think it would be awesome to listen!
I loved this review! I liked how you added quotes in there too, really made it interesting to read.
I have read a number of review for this book and I have to say that I am more than excited to get myself a copy 🙂
Thanks for the review!
I try to add quotes whenever I can, and felt it helped you sense the subtle humor and darker tones.
I cofnfess that I love stories with a Jack the Ripper topic, it’s always really interesting. I really wanted this one, it lookes so good, the reviews are so great and I was denied. I’ll have to buy one day
I hope you get to read it Melliane, the topic fascinates me as well
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
I always thought the Ripper mystery was endlessly fascinating. I love that this was done well, especially the setting and the atmosphere, which can pretty much make or break a book like this. Great review!
You are not alone, I read. watch, listen to anything I can about it. Truth be told serial killers fascinate me
I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers and any books that take them on. This sounds really interesting.
I have the same fascination Mary
This one does look a bit dark and gruesome but given the subject matter I guess it almost has to be. And it’s nice when an author can bring an historical setting alive like that. I’ve seen this one popping up and between the atmosphere, the mystery and the snark it sounds like a winner. Love the cover too.
It is darker, and falls in the older spectrum of YA + I love all things Jack the Ripper.