Whitechapel, London, in late 1800. A series of cruel and horrendous murders breaks out panic within people. Who was the murderer? Well, they called him “Jack the Ripper” and he used to kill women who belong to the lowest society levels. Though the police came up with several theories about his (or her) identity, it was impossible for them to give this killer a face. Now, thanks to Kerri Maniscalco’s debut novel we’ll be taken back in time, and through the eyes of the brave and brilliant Audrey Rose Wadsworth, we, my fellow readers, are going to be stalking “Jack the Ripper”.
While most girls her own age are more worried about finding the perfect dress for the upcoming ball or simply just gossiping around, Audrey Rose Wadsworth prefers to be surrounded by corpses at her uncle’s laboratory, studying forensic sciences. It is, in fact, thanks to one of these privileged study sessions that she comes closer to The Ripper murder cases. Audrey Rose is a very outstanding character who does not follow the norms dictated for women of her time. Her way of thinking is revolutionary, making her one of the fiercest female characters in the young adult literature. She is aware that she is fortunate to have the opportunity of studying and doing a man’s job, and she wishes that someday people would stop seeing women as fragile and weak as a piece of paper.
“What is a man’s soul made of that a woman is not? I had no idea my innards were composed of cotton and kittens, while yours were filled with steel and steam-driven parts.”
Audrey Rose is nothing like the classic detectives we are used to encountering in most of the mystery novels. She is not afraid of showing her human side; sure, she knows when to keep the poker face up, but she also is not afraid of letting her anger and disappointment show whenever she feels that way. She creates an emotional bond with every victim she comes across, and while she is aware that it is not good to do so, she just can’t help it.
But you know every Sherlock needs a Watson, right? And Audrey Rose has gotten herself quite a perfect one. Mr. Thomas Cresswell, an intelligent young man who is also an apprentice of her uncle. Audrey Rose is as gentle and kind as she is stubborn and obstinate, while Thomas is sassy and rude but cares deeply for the well-being of our protagonist, and together they become the best crime-solving partners. Since their first encounter, the reader knows that things between them are just going to be spicing up.
One of the things that I liked the most of this book is that it does not place the romance over the mystery plot. Here, the relationship between Audrey and Thomas develops at a slow pace and merges gracefully with the main story without interfering with it. Maniscalco has written this in such a way that whenever you are not at the edge of the seat thanks to the incredible way she describes a murder or an autopsy, your heart is skipping a beat because of an Audrey and Thomas scene.
The mystery is very well driven and the reader just goes with Audrey Rose’s thoughts and suspicions. Though I was able to find out who the killer was before the appropriate chapter of the book, I have to admit that I doubted myself quite often because without knowing it I had grown fond of all the characters, and that makes it difficult not only to suspect of anyone but most important to acknowledge and accept who the killer is.
Surely you must know by now that this is the first in a series of four books that are coming to an end this September with the release of Capturing the Devil, the last book of the saga. If you are fans of thriller and mystery novels (like me), you should definitely give Stalking Jack the Ripper a place on your shelf. You can find this and the other two parts on Book Depository, and if you happen to fall for this series as much as I did keep an eye on Barnes & Noble updates because rumor has it they will be releasing a box edition with the four books later on this year.