Guts and Glory: 'Stalking Jack the Ripper' Review

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Murder
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Page Number: 336

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.


I got an ARC of this book from BFest

Many have heard of the Jack the Ripper case. A horrible person committed these grizzly crimes and was never caught. It's something of a fascination to many. I'm not a huge fan of Jack the Ripper, but I've heard of his murders. It's interesting to see someone's take on the story. After all, he's never been found. 

This is, most definitely, a murder mystery book. How do I know that? Well, other than the obvious 'Jack the Ripper' premise, there's Audrey Rose investigating the murders with the assistance of medical science. It might seem like she's just along for the ride until she starts looking into her family members and even her fellow mentee. With the murder mystery elements, there was tension. It was amazing tension. I was constantly waiting for the next twist. Nothing was truly expected. You were led down many wrong paths with Audrey Rose, and that only strengthened the book's qualities. Masterfully done. 

Mysteries are always fun to read. You continuously go through the process of whodunit. Questions arise and are solved or go unanswered. Jack the Ripper's story is a mystery completely unanswered. No one knows who did it, but this book offered up an interesting explanation. I started guessing the killer only a few pages in. (My suspects were: Thomas because he's sneaky and shy, the father because of opium addiction, and the brother because Nathaniels are always bad thanks to Nathaniel Grey from 'The Infernal Devices'.) I did guess the right person, though. But the tension in the book prevented me from knowing for sure. A+

I haven't read many books with visual elements. Most books are limited to the text and, maybe just maybe, something artsy on the end pages. But this book gives you anatomically correct (Or so I think) drawings of dissections and photographs of important pieces of information. I really liked seeing this. It's unique and truly does make the book stand out. Plus, it gave us visuals to refer to. There was a reason for each image we saw. Whether it was a drawing of a body part or a picture of a sick guy (I won't reveal what he's sick with; it's mildly relevant later on in the book.) My only qualm is that, at times, these pictures appear in awkward places. For example, the sick guy picture isn't relevant to many chapters later. I know this is an ARC, but the pictures could have been spaced out better and/or put closer to relevancy.

The characters didn't really interest me. Both Audrey Rose and Thomas were boring for the most part. For some reason, they just didn't scream 'Look at me'. Audrey Rose isn't really a rebel, even though the author makes her out that way. She's quite a stick in the mud honestly. I felt like she could have been more daring, but she spends a lot of this book quietly doing things. I expected more from her. And Thomas? Sure, he could get cocky at times, but he too was mostly bland if not completely emotionless. He switches between cocky and emotionless, but I felt like it wasn't truly a part of him. In short, I didn't think his constant change of personality was truly representative of his character. He didn't seem like the type of guy to be cocky one moment and shy the next. It didn't work out the way the author wanted it to be. 

While this is a murder mystery book, the mystery didn't feel present. Most times, the story focused on freeing the Uncle instead of following the mystery. I wanted more mystery, more clues. I like solving mysteries. Even though I'm not very good at it. Mysteries are good things. Forces you to use your brains.

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