Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: jimmy patterson / James Patterson
“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.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.”
I’ve never been a fan of murder mysteries, and reading suspenseful books usually causes me more anxiety than excitement. So when I picked up an ARC of Stalking Jack the Ripper at BEA, I had no idea what to expect. I nearly decided against reading this because I was so sure it would be too gory, too spooky for me. Thankfully I gave Stalking Jack the Ripper a chance, because this book blew me away.
Our protagonist Audrey Rose is a proper lady, but all the tea parties in the world can’t hold her attention when she’d rather be conducting an autopsy. Audrey spends her free time apprenticing under her uncle as a forensic scientist, and when one of the bodies she’s studying turns out to be the Jack the Ripper’s first victim, Audrey finds herself on the hunt for a killer.
My single favorite thing about this book is how powerfully feminist it is. Audrey pushes back against societal expectations placed upon her as a young woman, and is more concerned with determining cause of death than finding a husband. Audrey asserts herself and her aspirations, going so far as to attend her uncle’s lectures dressed as a boy. Female characters who are interested in STEM fields are still unfortunately uncommon in YA, so seeing Audrey’s passion for science before women were even largely allowed to study added to my appreciate for this book. Audrey has so much working against her, but she still fights for what’s important to her.
Weaving in the Ripper murders was an interesting premise, and I’m sure that readers who are better acquainted with Jack with get even more out of it than I did. Admittedly, I know very little about Jack the Ripper, so I wasn’t overly focused on those details. Maniscalco does play around with Jack the Ripper, and while it was told well, I didn’t love where she took that part of the story. The ending felt oddly detached from the rest of the story, and that lessened my overall enjoyment of the book.
I did enjoy the romantic subplot, especially for its snappy banter and competitive nature. That being said, I wish he didn’t swoop in to save Audrey quite so much. As fierce and capable as she is, I would’ve liked to maybe see Audrey save him a couple times.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper and would definitely recommend picking it up if you’re intrigued!
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
*I received this ARC from the publisher at BEA in exchange for a free & honest review.