So I’ll be the first to admit that I came to Kerri Maniscalco later than many, many others. See, I have this prejudice against James Patterson (I mean – unputdownable IS NOT A WORD!!! AAAAH) and his imprint publishes Maniscalco’s books (well, it did, but now she’ll be published elsewhere). I know I shouldn’t judge but just seeing Patterson’s name on the cover drives me a little bit crazy. So I obstinately refused to pick up her Stalking Jack the Ripper series for way longer than I should have. (We all know how well my stubbornness has, let’s say, interfered in my enjoyment of books. So, you probably know how it ends.)
However, one day, wandering through Get Lit. Books, an indie bookstore in Sierra Vista, Arizona (don’t ask) I happened to see the second installment in the store. Always wanting to support local bookstores, I purchased the copy and figured when I got home, I’d get the first from the public library. Which I did.
I sped through the series like Jack the Ripper himself was after me. I ended up buying the rest of the series to match. So, if you haven’t discovered the magic of Stalking Jack the Ripper, I suggest you go read it. Like, now.
This series follows Audrey Rose Wadsworth as she navigates through 1880s Britain as a woman in society, expected to conform to society’s expectations that she marry (she is of the noble class) while also an ardent and passionate scientist, studying with her uncle to become a forensic scientist. Jack the Ripper is tormenting London with his crime spree, and Audrey Rose, alongside her uncle, her brother, and her competitor (both in science and in *lurve*) Thomas Cresswell, attempts to uncover Jack the Ripper’s identity and bring him to justice. And that’s just the description of the first book.
Each book in the series brings Audrey Rose a little closer to her goals and further away from where she’s started. She suffers a tremendous personal loss and leaves her home in Britain for Romania and then the United States, using her scientific mind to solve seemingly unsolvable crimes. Since each book also deepens her relationship with Thomas, Audrey Rose must ask herself if it is worth sacrificing her career ambitions to have a traditional relationship. Ultimately this book is extremely progressive for the times – one could argue that a modern spin is placed upon history, but it is an enjoyable conclusion.
I think the enjoyment of the relationship comes from the fact that both Audrey Rose and Thomas are such wonderful characters and I couldn’t tear myself away from their story. The mysteries are compelling, the science is remarkably interesting for someone who isn’t such a science person and I found the character development to be really interesting. I loved reading about a woman in a man’s world who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and show up all the men around her.
So when I heard that Kerri Maniscalco was starting a new series, I was super excited! I could not wait, even though the description of the new series wasn’t my usual cup of tea. Well, SJTR wasn’t my cup of tea either so, what the heck! I wasn’t disappointed.
Emilia and her twin sister, Vittoria, have a secret – they come from a long line of witches. When Vittoria is brutally murdered and the murder scene is smothered? Inundated? Drenched? in magic, Emilia vows retribution and turns to some shady forces that her sister had been dealing with prior to her death. She makes a deal with a Prince of the Netherworld – one she has been warned never to trust to find her sister’s murderer. As they work to solve the mystery, they grow closer and Emilia gets deeper and deeper into the politics and rivalries of the Underworld. Believe it or not, I wasn’t able to predict the actual ending. This was a true mic-drop, stop-the-presses, I-never-saw-it-coming ending!!
Also there was a lot of talk of Italian food. A lot. Like the kind that will have you fantasizing about a trip to Italy to indulge. Don’t read this book while you are hungry.
Now I can’t wait for Book 2.
Do yourself a favor and read these books.
Stalking Jack the Ripper, published 2016
Becoming Prince Dracula, published 2017
Escaping from Houdini, published 2018
Capturing the Devil, published 2019
Kingdom of the Wicked, published 2020