Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Manscalco | Book Review

Reading Group: At least 14 years old as it describes murder and dead bodies very explicitly   

Personal Rating:  5 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis: Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

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.

Cover: This cover shows Audrey Rose in a way that proves she is a beautiful girl, not someone who would be interested in performing autopsies.  However, she is holding a knife that may indicate that she is skilled in performing autopsies, or it could be Jack the Ripper's murder weapon.  She is overlayed on top of London, which is where this story takes place.

My Review: Last week I needed to go get my fingerprints taken so that I could get my student visa approved before I study abroad next semester.  I was right down the street from Target so I decided to stop in and while I was there I found this book.  There were a lot of things that drew me to this book. One was that the cover is pretty and it made me turn it over and read the synopsis, which sounded very interesting.  Another was that I am studying abroad in London so I thought it was fitting to read a book that takes place there.  Of course, I maybe should have chosen one that didn't discuss a serial killer.  The third was that I knew this post would be up on Halloween and figured this book would be spooky enough to be appropriate.  And finally, one of my favorite Criminal Minds episodes is when they go to Louisianna and discover a Jack the Ripper copycat killer because it's the episode where JJ meets Will and I absolutely love those two!
This book did not disappoint and I will try not to share any spoilers, but that might be hard for me so if you haven't read this book go do so and then come back and we can talk about it in the comments.  Audrey Rose is a young woman who doesn't seem to belong in 19th Century London.  She's too smart and too interested in things that are not deemed proper for girls her age.  What I loved about her was that she knew she was smarter than most people gave her credit for, but she also understood that she was living in a world that didn't fully appreciate her and instead of going full rage against society she uses it to her advantage and lets people be surprised by her.  She also values some things that girls her age would value, like nice dresses.  I loved that she was a character with layers and not just a 'tomboy' or 'girly girl' but a mixture of both.  The whole time I was reading I was thinking that I could write my senior thesis about her.
The relationship dynamic between her and Thomas Cresswell was brilliant to me, which probably surprises none of you.  Thomas was the perfect amount of flirty with Audrey Rose that made you originally question his genuineness, but when it came down to it you knew he truly cared for her.  He was definitely jealous of Blackburn and when he thought Audrey Rose was going to get hurt he immediately admitted how he felt about her.  It was adorable.  But at the same time, you didn't quite know if he was Jack the Ripper or not and every time the book made it seem like it could be him I sent up a silent prayer that it wasn't.
The thing about mystery novels and crime shows like this is that I make a game of trying to guess the culprit before it's told to me.  This book did a very good job of directing and redirecting your attention to who Jack the Ripper could be.  Jack the Ripper was also never found, he simply stopped killing women, which makes this book more interesting because you weren't waiting for a certain name to pop up and it allowed Maniscalco to be creative as to why this person was killing all these women.  And let me just say that the ending is WOW.
I think that's all I can say without giving too much away, but I definitely recommend this book.  It kept you on your toes and dealt with social issues that were alive and true in the 1800s, but also still scene today.

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