Review: Escaping Houdini | Kerri Maniscalco

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ESCAPING HOUDINI (STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, #3) | Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK SPECS

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Book 3)

Hardcover: 448 pages

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

SYNOPSIS

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?”

Revamped Review-2

Before I begin, I finally noticed that I NEVER wrote a review for Hunting Prince Dracula. How sad is that???? So one day I’ll get that done. But for now, let’s focus on this one.

The third book in this amazing mystery series, while still deliciously dark and grisly, as well as entertaining and humorous, is not as compelling as the first two installments, unfortunately. I don’t know if I’m in the minority for saying this but I can’t lie and say this was a perfect book. At least, for me, it wasn’t.

I stand by the belief that Audrey Rose is an exceptional female protagonist. I really enjoy the balance in her character. Her love for forensic pathology does not deter her love for elegance and (Victorian perceptions of) feminity. She enjoys considering the state of dead things just as much as she loves wearing beautiful dresses. She continues to challenge the norms of her time and luckily her “I’m not like other girls” attitude has dissipated since the first book. Her thoughts are more focused on understanding her true self and coming into acceptance of it.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the repartee between her and Thomas Cresswell, whom I love dearly. I really enjoy their playful banter. It’s littered with so much humor and romance. Unfortunately, in this book, while we are still gifted with that wonderful display of romance between the two, Thomas has kind of faded into the background. He feels more like a secondary character rather than a deuteragonist now.

In the first book, I had some qualms that Thomas overshadowed Audrey Rose’s forensic skills. The second book rectified this by giving Audrey Rose a more involved role in the case as she carried out most of the forensic footwork while Thomas acted mostly as the love interest and support. Because of this, they felt more like equals that were integral to the narrative. But in this book, it really did feel as if Thomas was placed in a backseat role. We barely got to see him in all his forensic glory.

And this was due largely in part to the very sudden introduction of a new love interest who was far too similar to Thomas. I don’t need another Thomas. One will do. Also, I wasn’t on board with the disingenuous drama the love triangle created. It was completely unnecessary and only took from the story. I feel like there are other ways to show Audrey’s understandable hesitation in dedicating herself to a potentially married life with Thomas.

In regards to the mystery, even though it was dark and grisly and gory, it wasn’t as compelling or clever as the previous cases. The clues weren’t well-embedded into the narrative and so it felt as if the mystery were created in sections rather than a whole. And when the killer was revealed, it was very anti-climactic and unsurprising. I think this was because the author focused too much on Audrey Rose’s romantic upheaval and also too much on the extravagant detail of the carnival. Even though I’m a sucker for magic and circus themes, I couldn’t help but notice that the carnival environment somewhat detracted from the development of the mystery.

There are many flaws in this book but they don’t take away from the enjoyability of the story. I wish the mystery had been as intriguing as Audrey Rose’s character development in this book but overall I was pleased with this one. I’m very excited to see what comes next in the series, especially now that Thomas and Audrey Rose have had their mandatory YA moment of romantic weakness. I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes from here and what sort of adventures they’ll get up to together. Because I’d love to see them working more as a team rather than as separate brilliant minds. A book about a genius married couple working in forensics, solving grisly cases together, would be FANTASTIC.

MY RATING:

4 stars

6 thoughts on “Review: Escaping Houdini | Kerri Maniscalco

      1. Oh that’s a shame! Hope you get back to it soon though. And yeah, it’s a pretty gory series throughout. But the forensic and romantic content is worth it I think 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I haven’t read any of the books from this series but i’m very excited to start. The books are given such high rating and I love trying to figure out who the suspect is before its revealed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are so much fun to read along with! Especially given the Victorian era setting. I hope you enjoy them once you pick them up. And if you love mysteries, then I also highly recommend the Truly Devious series, if you haven’t read them already!😄

      Like

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