Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco
Victorian Gothic thriller. Sherlock Holmes with a feminist twist. A book that combines the gore of Jack the Ripper with the complexity of Dr. Frankenstein. There is just so much that is inside this book and it was absolutely brilliantly done.
Maniscalco has managed to take a huge amount of Victorian literary tropes, and give them a fresh voice that is new and energetic. Audrey Rose Wadsworth wishes to shed her frilly prison of wealthy nobility, and instead don the blood-splattered apron of a forensic doctor. She studies in secret with her mysterious brilliant uncle, and his equally brilliant and mysterious young protegé, Thomas Cresswell. The three are swiftly embroiled in the gruesome murders committed by one "Leather Apron."
Audrey Rose and Thomas develop a love-hate relationship based on one-upmanship and pithy comebacks that would do any romantic comedy proud. Both are clearly fascinated by each other, and quite frankly the two investigative lovebirds are adorable together.
Thomas smiled at my eye roll, puffing his chest up and standing with one foot proudly resting on a chair as if posing for a portrait. "I don't blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once."
But as Thomas also has the ice-cool deductive genius that evokes none other than the infamous Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, Lady Wadsworth eagerly becomes his Watson, keen to learn all that his intellect has to offer. She is also very intelligent and suffers when she has to act as though frivolity is the only thing she has to offer.
I found the book had a very distinct feminist appeal to it, and I loved it for it. There were times when Audrey Rose was forced to be less than what she was, for the sake of her role in society and for what she might be able to accomplish if only she learned how to overcome the rules. At one point, she is warned to keep her mouth shut as most men would not care to hear her opinion.
I was a young girl growing up in a world run by old men. I'd pick and choose my battles wisely.
I loved this line because what woman hasn't had to choose her battles wisely? It managed to take this thriller and take it to the next level, as women everywhere empathized with bright, ambitious Audrey Rose.
I enjoyed the lead up in the plot and did not see the twist coming at the end, but was happily chewing on the red herrings that Maniscalco threw out. Well played, I say. It definitely left me wanting more of all the characters. I knew when I began reading that there are at least two other books by Maniscalco, but I wasn't sure if they followed the same characters. So I was pretty effing happy that it was all set up that next, Audrey Rose and Thomas are traveling together to Romania to hunt Dracula. Definitely sign me up for the next book in the series!
I rather fancy the thought of more adventures with you, Miss Wadsworth.