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When we first meet Audrey Rose Wadsworth, she is cutting into a dead body. With her uncle peering over her shoulder, she makes a perfect Y incision into the cadaver and then proceeds to split the cadaver’s rib cage apart. As an apprentice to her Uncle, Audrey Rose studies the dead. She delves into their remains to decipher clues on the manner of their death. In almost any other novel, this would not be so unusual. However, this is 1888 and young ladies simply do not dissect the dead. Much less spend time in the basement laboratory surrounded by cadavers, body parts, and surgical instruments. Or, become a student in their Uncle’s forensic medicines class. Yet, that is exactly what Audrey Rose does as she’s drawn deeper into Stalking Jack the Ripper.
The Bold and Fearless Heroine of Stalking Jack the Ripper
Kerri Maniscalco’s debut novel, Stalking Jack the Ripper, features a fiercely independent protagonist, risking ostracization by society and the ire of her over-protective father for a most unusual education. Audrey Rose is a breath of fresh air. She is smart, courageous, and sassy.
While most young ladies of her station spend their days paying social calls and having tea, Audrey Rose is elbow deep in autopsies. She lies to her father about her visits with her Uncle and sneaks out of her home in the dead of night to hunt down a vicious killer. Audrey Rose’s natural, inborn curiosity and desire to be more than what society allows, drive her to push the boundaries over and over.
“One needn’t be strong in only physical matters —
a strong mind and will were fierce to behold as well.”
Despite Audrey Rose’s clinical approach to the case, she still takes a personal interest in solving the Jack the Ripper crimes. No longer content to remain behind – to wait for something to happen – Audrey Rose takes matters into her hands. Her daring derives from a need to impress her Uncle, to show she’s worthy of his tutelage. And then, there is her need to impress Thomas Cresswell, her Uncle’s other apprentice. Who also just happens to be handsome and irritatingly so. More importantly, though, Audrey Rose has something to prove to herself.
The Romance – Wadsworth and Cresswell
When Audrey Rose first really meets Thomas, she is hiding in the back of her Uncle’s class. Dressed as a boy. Despite the unusual first meetings, sparks fly. There is an instant connection that goes beyond their shared interest in the dead. However, the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas develops slowly. It simmers in the background, surging forward at just the right moments, receding exactly when it should. This does two things: First, it keeps the focus of the story on Audrey Rose and her journey. Second, it keeps us right on the edge of our seats. When the mystery of Jack the Ripper isn’t making our hearts pump, Audrey Rose and Thomas certainly are!
But, it’s not just a romantic relationship. It is also one of mutual respect. Audrey Rose and Thomas debate the facts of each case as equals. They exchange ideas, test theories, and draw conclusions, completing each other’s thoughts as they move closer to the truth of the murders. Yet, it’s not wholly factual as flirtatious remarks or looks weave in and out of their debates with a natural ease.
“Take your emotions out of the equation, Wadsworth. Having a heart that gets distracted by such frivolous things won’t aid you in this investigation.”
Thomas is a wild card. One moment he is unexpectedly charming and the next, he is dissecting not only a body but a person’s psyche without missing a beat. He is clinical, almost bordering on offensive. He is also unabashedly blunt. Audrey Rose reluctantly finds him fascinating. Although, he is equally vexing. Still, she gives as good as she gets. She meets his challenges with her own and the admiration and respect he feels for her becomes more obvious.
Stalking Jack the Ripper Adaptation Recommendation
Yes, please! I would love to see Kerri Maniscalco’s book brought to life on the big screen! The imagery from the books would translate wonderfully to film. Also, since Stalking Jack the Ripper adds a modern twist to the period, the potential for some gorgeous costume designs is high!
Then, there are special effects to consider. Jack the Ripper’s victims, the eerie feel of London fog, and, of course, that last scene….well, you’ll have to read the books to see what I mean. As for casting, I think I’ll wait until I review the second book in the series to fan cast!
Final Thoughts on Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fantastic haunting read. It’s spine-tingling creepy and shiver-inducing. This Gothic tale of murder and mystery also gives us an inspiring character in Audrey Rose. For added authenticity, Maniscalco pulls deeply from the factual history and lore of Jack the Ripper as well as the state of forensic autopsies in the 19th Century. This gives the story an even more hair-raising feel as Audrey Rose closes in on a murderer.
The unexpected personal connection Audrey Rose has with Jack the Ripper raises the stakes until you don’t know who to trust any more than Audrey Rose. Just when you think you have it figured out, Maniscalco throws in a twist that leaves your jaw on the floor. Stalking Jack the Ripper is wonderfully sinister with just the right amount of threatening menace, not to mention romance! A #1 New York Times bestseller, add this fantastic read to your must-read list now!
Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!
Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first young adult novel published by James Patterson’s jimmy imprint with Little, Brown. It is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore or online book retailer. It’s also available on Amazon Kindle, NOOK, and Google Play Books.
Content Warning: The novel follows the murders of Jack the Ripper and thus, there are a few grisly descriptions of his victims. The romance is lovely and passionate but without explicit or graphic descriptions.
You can buy the book HERE (affiliate link).
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
(Scroll down for the Full Old-Fashioned Romance Breakdown)