Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
On Sale Date: September 20, 2016
Young Adult Fiction \ Thrillers & Suspense
Ages 15 And Up, Grades 10 to 17
Jimmy Patterson, 336 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars
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He’s the infamous killer no man has ever been able to find.
Now it’s a girl’s turn.
Groomed to be the perfect highborn Victorian young lady, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a decidedly different plan for herself. After the loss of her beloved mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death and its workings. Trading in her embroidery needle for an autopsy scalpel, Audrey secretly apprentices in forensics. She soon gets drawn into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper, but to her horror, the search for clues brings her far closer to her sheltered world than she ever thought possible.
Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and chilling suspense, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER blends Gothic horror with forensic science creating a dark and beguiling read where one brave girl takes on the mystery of the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Inspired by the unsolved Jack the Ripper cases, Maniscalco writes an engaging mystery whose heroine is as comfortable shopping for corsets and bustles as she is wielding a scalpel and performing an autopsy.
"I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had Showed me."
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth epitomizes a well groomed Victorian lady but she leads a secret life, one where she is an apprentice to her Uncle, a professor, and mortician, often practicing in his laboratory. Instead of social teas and leisurely drives in Hyde Park, Audrey studies the nature of death, one she is determined to uncover its secrets after losing her mother to its clutches at an early age. A death she feels responsible for and longs for a science that will make sense of it. When a string of murders happens, Audrey finds herself at the center of an investigation involving the Jack the Ripper killings.
Maniscalco gives YA readers a look at Victorian forensics. Chilling and grisly, readers will be drawn to it as our intrepid heroine Audrey Rose gives us a lens to view it from as a young forensic student. With this kind of story, the crimes are already horrific, yet I liked how they were not softened but rather accurately described. Older YA readers can/will appreciate the darker tones needed for STALKING JACK THE RIPPER.
The setting takes place around London during 1888 with historic period details that lend a perfect backdrop to the story. With midnight walks in Whitechapel and trips to Bedlam, readers get the feel of what took place during those murders. Trips to opium dens, pubs, and rides in Hyde Park - details are imparted making the reader feel as if they are there.
Audrey Rose is brilliant and clever, straining against the society norms and restrictions placed upon young girls. Impassioned and curious, Audrey makes quite the sleuth. Her fierceness is balanced with a softer side of a girl who still enjoys shopping for fine dresses and appreciates the love of her family. Yes, you can wear a dress (though breeches are preferred) while cutting open a cadaver - just make sure your shoes are appropriate for the task.
“Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that. There’s no reason you can’t wear a simple frock to work, then don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”
STALKING JACK THE RIPPER is darkly romantic. Its tone is lightened by the wonderful interactions between Audrey Rose and Thomas, a fellow student of her Uncle’s. Antagonistic in nature, their banter helps brighten the mood as a slow-brewing romance builds between them. Thomas is at once brash and boyishly vulnerable, often mischievous and arrogant at the same time, keeping Audrey rose guessing as to his real nature.
“Without lifting his head from his own journal, he said, “Not having any luck figuring me out, then? Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. And, yes”—he grinned wickedly, eyes fixed on his paper—“you’ll still fancy me tomorrow no matter how much you wish otherwise. I’m unpredictable, and you adore it. Just as I cannot wrap my massive brain around the equation of you and yet adore it.”
STALKING JACK THE RIPPER gives YA a dose of the macabre in this chilling mystery. Strategically placed authentic illustrations help to set the mood and twisty clues lead a path to the heart of a killer. One, I happened to guess the identity of early on but I didn't mind much as the writing was so entertaining. Maniscalco is an exciting new young adult author to watch for.