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 was such a fun reading experience for me; I finished reading it in a day and it was so hard to put down. I had heard so much hype about this novel / series prior to reading it myself and I think that sort of contributed to my expectations being quite high. I enjoy watching or reading about true crime cases from time to time and obviously Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous unsolved cases of all time, so it was interesting to read how Kerri Maniscalco brought fact and fiction together here.
I loved how atmospheric and foreboding the setting was in the novel and how Maniscalco brings late 18th century London to life. I recognised all the places in the novel being a Londoner myself so it was interesting to read these spots in a way I’ve never known them, cloaked in fog with cobblestones and danger lurking around each corner. I thought that the scenes which took place in the laboratory were particularly effective though, the first scene of the novel in fact is Audrey literally dissecting a corpse so it was straight in there with the gore / creep factor.
The characters themselves drew more of a mixed reaction, Audrey-Rose was likeable enough but there were definitely some times when the ‘I’m not like other girls’ vibes were A LOT. Like a reader would get that after the first couple times of that being mentioned, and it just felt really repetitive after a certain point. I think there’s also something to be said about the historical inaccuracies and the attitudes towards feminism and this kind of message being a bit anachronistic. I totally understand what Maniscalco may have been trying to do here but unfortunately it just didn’t work especially when it felt like Audrey’s attitudes towards other women in the book weren’t the best by any means. There were also some moments when I was like seriously Audrey? You’re out here walking around at night when there’s a serial killer on the loose? It just didn’t always add up given how ‘smart’ she was written in other ways.
Another main character we are introduced to, is Thomas Cresswell. He’s a student of medicine and this is where he and Audrey first meet, with an antagonising sort of air, Thomas is a know it all and the two start of on the wrong foot. Gradually however, they grow to have a good working relationship as they work in earnest to figure out who the killer is and stop them from striking again. There is also a romantic side to their relationship which is explored and I loved it so much. I could see it coming a mile off yet I still loved each moment of their flirty back and forth, and I was rooting for them to get together. I’m a sucker for historical romance and this ticks all the boxes; rivals to lovers, propriety and restrictive norms of the time leading to a whole load of sexual tension and witty exchanges, check and check.
The central mystery driving the plot is obviously figuring out who the killer is and the stream of clues and making all the pieces fit. After I finished reading, I went to go and read other peoples reviews and see what they thought and a lot of people said they figured it out from the second chapter. I also sort of had an idea of who it was and I was proven right, so that was more satisfying to me than annoying and it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book by any means. I thought who it ended up being was interesting, more so because of their motivations and why they did it – very creepy and very fitting for the Victorian time.
Overall, Stalking Jack the Ripper was an addictive read and very easy to get through despite its flaws. I think I’ll probably read the rest of the series out of curiosity, given that they each feature a different true crime case or historic mystery which I’m very interested in so we’ll see how it goes. The next instalment in the series is called Hunting Prince Dracula so colour me intrigued.
Until next time,