“Stalking Jack the Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou

Seventeen year old Audrey Rose is nothing like the other girls her age. Even though she is the daughter to a lord and lives a life of wealth and privilege, she is not happy with the afternoon tea parties and the company of other women of her class. She is apprenticing by her Uncle, who is running a forensic medicine laboratory. Her Uncle is very well known to Scotland Yard and one that is often summoned whenever a gruesome crime comes up and his services are required. Among others, he is the one to examine a murdered body and Audrey Rose is there for the postmortem lessons. You see, when she works by her Uncle, she is learning. She learns about the human body, inside and outside and she is in the path of science, one that could possibly lead to some revelation or cure in the future.

Audrey Rose lost her mother a few years back. She was ill herself and mother caught the feverish disease from her. But Audrey Rose lived and her mother died and even though the both of them got ill, her brother and father never did. So, there must have been a reason for what happened and maybe, maybe one day someone would find out. Till then she would continue alongside her Uncle, despite her father’s objection. Her father is not in good terms with his brother ever since Audrey’s mother died. Truth be told, her father asked for his brother’s help to save his wife, only he did it too late, when nothing could be done. Even so, Audrey’s Uncle tried to no avail. So, having his daughter work with the brother that could not save his beloved wife, was not something he would ever agree to. Especially when this included cadavers. And at the same time he was trying to keep his children close to him, in the confined walls of his house and away from deadly germs that could possibly harm them.

In the midst of all this, the Whitechapel Murderer, Leather Apron, Jack the Ripper spreads his darkness over London. People and especially women, prostitutes mostly, are no afraid to walk the East End streets at late hour of the night, for fear they may become his next victims. Audrey Rose and her Uncle are part of the investigation of his first victims and what they face is unlike anything even her Uncle has faced before. Jack the Ripper is so cruel with his victims. Soon enough things get out of hand. Thankfully for Audrey Rose, her Uncle’s other apprentice, Thomas Cresswell is on her side, trying to clear the fog that covers Jack the Ripper and his atrocious crimes.

I really liked Audrey Rose in this first book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. She is a woman of her time and of the future as well. Back then, women were considered to be fragile creatures that would faint in view of blood. They were supposed to be under a male’s protection and be interested only about their household, embroidery, fashion and gossips. But Audrey Rose is different. She likes dressing in her horsebacks instead of her flock and slippers and she has an investigative mind, one that seeks progress on all the important things in life.

Thomas Cresswell was also a very interesting character in the book. He reminded me so much of Sherlock Holmes, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like him after all. Eventually I came to really like that strange character. He is a very clever person and it is portrayed extremely well. He is not very good in interpersonal relationships, which is a sign of intelligence, but he is extremely good at investigation and putting clues together in order to come to a reliable conclusion about almost everything, just like Sherlock.

Truth be told, this is a pretty decent book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book. It’s a pretty well written book, which for me is a mix of retellings. One of Jack the Ripper’s story, for which we get the author’s version, and that of Sherlock Holmes, where we have Thomas Cresswell as Sherlock and Audrey Rose Wadsworth as professor Watson. I was not head over hills over this one, but it was okay. I’ll have a better view when I get to the next book in the series.

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