Stalking Jack the Ripper is a thrilling tale about a young Victorian woman attempting to navigate her way through a male dominated society.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth has survived the scarlet fever that claimed her mother. At 17, she is expected to become a prim and proper young woman who is more interested in her looks and gossip than the macabre. Her brush with death, however, has left her with a profound curiosity for science, a curiosity that her father detests but her uncle secretly encourages.
Audrey Rose spends most of her days learning the fine arts of autopsy and dissection from her uncle. It is in his lab that she first encounters Thomas Creswell, a young man with an intellect to rival Audrey’s but whose keen observational skills far exceeds her own. Together, they find themselves investigating a string of recent murders, first as a means to satisfy their curiosity. But soon the Audrey’s uncle is accused of the murders and now she must find evidence that sets him free. Unfortunately this makes Audrey a target for the killer who now calls himself Jack the Ripper.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is Kerri Maniscalco’s first novel. While I found parts of it transparent and almost cliche – I correctly guessed who Jack really was – it was still an enjoyable read. As an anatomy teacher, I was being mindful of any science mistakes but found few that detracted me completely from the story. Maniscalco does a wonderful job weaving together the necessary science with the fiction.
I also found the story to be quite reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, which I liked. But what I most enjoyed was Audrey’s character. She begins the book struggling to hide her interests, and at one point seems to succumb to her father’s vehement desire that she give up her study of science. But very quickly Audrey decides that to give up her studies means to give up on a part of herself and fights back. Being that this story is set in the Victorian era, I found this to be both bold and refreshing.
I have heard tale that there will be a second installment to this series. I am curious how it will continue since it wrapped up quite nicely. But if Maniscalco is indeed using Holmes and Watson as inspiration, I think there will be a few more tales to tell.
My rating: 4/5