ARC provided by Jimmy Patterson Books in exchange for an honest review
Book: Escaping From Houdini
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA mystery, historical fiction
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
My Rating: ★★★★
In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .
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?
Oh man, I have some feelings, guys. Lots of FEELINGS.
First and foremost I want to point out that per Kerri Maniscalco, she has written a different ending than what was in this ARC. So this review will be entirely based on what I read in the ARC. I may come back later to change my review/rating after I read the published copy.
And as always, since this is book #3 in a series, there might be spoilers from the first two books.
Escaping From Houdini opens on board the RMS Etruria. Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell (be still my heart) joined Audrey Rose’s uncle to help investigate another case in New York. But once they begin their week long voyage, passengers are murdered and everyone becomes a suspect. To add to the mayhem, there’s a circus troupe on board working as the ship’s entertainment, and the mysterious Mephistopheles has made a dark bargain with Audrey Rose.
And just like the other two books, we once again get more witty banter, swoon-worthy one-liners, and large doses of feminism to make my heart happy. While Audrey Rose’s attitude in this book was not my favorite, I still appreciated the author addressing Audrey Rose’s conflicting romantic feelings; that it is normal to feel confused when you’re only seventeen. We also get lots of forensics, murder investigations, and Thomas’ sly Sherlockian-style deductions. (Seriously, I could read an entire book about how Thomas investigates a murder scene!)
So, let’s talk a little bit about what I did not love. As previously stated, Audrey Rose’s actions in this book felt a bit out of character, and she does some hurtful things that just made me shake my head. I really hope the alternate/final ending will tidy that up more, because if I have to be honest with myself, I did not love the last 1/4 of the book. The introduction of Mephistopheles was a buzz-kill and opened the door for a really forced love triangle. His personality was like a watered down version of Thomas’ and I was not a fan.
And last but not least, there’s Houdini, who was rarely in the book and felt like an after thought. Much like the last two books, the title characters aren’t the main characters with a bunch of screen time.
I’ve said this before in my last review for Hunting Prince Dracula, but usually the endings for each of these books fall a bit flat for me. In this case everyone is stuck on a cruise liner, giving us that added mysterious ambiance in good ol’ Agatha Christie fashion. It’s a perfect whodunnit setting, yet I felt that the potential suspects didn’t drop very many subtle clues for a motive, and the red herrings were, once again, too obvious.
With that being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I loved being back in that world and being surrounded by those characters who now feel like my friends. My heart was breaking so many times and I am still recovering from so many feelings! I am already dying for the next (and final) book, and I cannot wait to hear everyone’s thoughts when Escaping From Houdini comes out on September 18th!