Hey guys! I’m slightly nervous about writing this post because my opinion on the series is pretty controversial. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it is the “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series by Kerri Maniscalco. This series is rather popular and I know that a lot of people love it. I, too, was rather fond of the first two books, but the last two books were pretty bad and managed to ruin this series for me. I’ve basically compiled my reviews of books 1-4 and I’m putting them all on one post to express my thoughts on the series as a whole. If you have not read the series or the complete series, please proceed with caution as my reviews for books 2,3, and 4 might contain spoilers for you. If this post is too long for you or if you’re afraid of spoilers, you can at least check my star ratings to get a feel for my rocky relationship with this series. Without further ado, here are my thoughts.
BOOK ONE- Stalking Jack the Ripper (LOVE)
4.5/5 stars, rounded up to 5
I had no idea what to expect from this book. There’s a lot of hype for this book. A lot of people love it, and a lot of people hate it. I found myself joining the people in the former because this book was wonderful!
Audrey Rose is not your typical woman in 19th century England. She has a fascination with the dead and often works alongside her uncle in investigating cadavers. The Jack the Ripper murders begin, and the bodies are in horrible shape. Determined to get to the bottom of these murders, Audrey Rose is forced to work alongside the annoying Thomas Cresswell. All kinds of secrets are discovered; all kinds of people are suspects.
First of all, I loved the concept. I’ve watched a lot of true crime/serial killer content, but it’s not something I get to read often so this was a nice treat. For those who don’t like gore, this is probably not going to be for you though.
Second of all, THOMAS CRESSWELL. He’s definitely one of the best things about this book. I love how he really appreciates Audrey Rose for her intelligence, unlike the rest of society. He even appreciates her strange interest with the dead. I also loved his sarcasm and snarky attitude! I can’t wait to see him again in the next book!
Third, I can’t leave out Audrey Rose. I’ve already made it obvious that Thomas is my favorite, but she is definitely a great character. She’s smart and witty and weird. She got on my nerves sometimes, but I really liked her character in general.
Overall, this book was fascinating and enjoyable and I’m definitely going to continue reading this series!
BOOK TWO- Hunting Prince Dracula (LOVE)
I’m going to be completely honest–I forgot to write a review for this book. In a very short summary, Audrey Rose and Thomas go to study forensics in Romania. People are once again being murdered and people are claiming that Prince Dracula has risen from the dead and is killing people once again. Audrey Rose and Thomas discover the school itself has a lot of secrets–after all, it had originally been the castle of Prince Dracula himself. This book did a great job balancing the murder mystery with romance, and I enjoyed it. I really wish the next two books had done a better job of this.
BOOK THREE- Escaping From Houdini (HATE)
Good news, I remembered to review this one!
I have been putting off writing this review because of how frustrated this book made me. SJTR was an amazing book and I got hooked. HPD was also pretty good and I wanted more of Wadsworth and Cresswell! And then I read this book. I’m going to do my best to express my frustration without spoiling anything.
Audrey Rose and Thomas find themselves on a boat heading to America, along with Audrey Rose’s uncle. They discover that a traveling circus will be performing every night until they arrive in America. The voyage starts to feel more like a prison when a body is found. With only one week to discover the identity of the murderer before losing them in America, Audrey Rose and Thomas are determined to catch the killer quickly.
This book sounded just as promising as the first two did. However, I was very much let down. As far as the mystery of the murderer goes, it wasn’t as interesting as the others. I was shocked by the identity of the killers in the first two books, but I found the reveal of the identity somewhat lacking. Plus, there were some clues to the identity that seemed more obvious this time. However, that’s not really my issue with this book. There’s a certain thing I can’t stand in books and this book was extremely guilty of it. Slight spoiler ahead so beware! I can’t stand a cheating plotline. I find them unnecessary and irritating. It’s a good way to ruin a book or series for me. And, as much as I hate to say it, this book introduced a cheating plotline. I will not spoil the specifics, but it made me furious. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to convince myself to read the last book, though I might read it just for the closure as I loved the first two books. This definitely was not what I wanted out of this book. I suppose other readers might have still enjoyed it, but this was not for me.
BOOK FOUR- Capturing the Devil (EXTREME HATE)
I was so disappointed with this book. I know that’s a highly controversial opinion, but hear me out.
After arriving in America, Audrey Rose and Thomas immediately set to work solving another murder case. However, this murderer is proving much harder to catch and identify than the others. Here’s the issue: that’s pretty much it as far as actual plot goes.
The thing I have always loved about these books is the murder mystery. I loved trying to figure out who the murderer is and I loved being surprised when the identity was revealed. That whole concept was completely lacking in this book. The first 200ish pages revolved around the romance between Audrey Rose and Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cressworth ship, but this was major overkill. I always loved their teamwork in solving murders, which was already lacking in the last book, but they were so wrapped up in their own romantic troubles for 200 pages that they completely didn’t deal with the murderer so women literally lost their lives while these two were trying to sort out their love lives (please re-evaluate your priorities, guys!) I pretty much became sick with one of my favorite ships thanks to this. Not to mention, this book wasn’t clean! The others were clean, which I was very happy about, but this book threw all of that out the window. Not to mention. Audrey Rose tries to pretend some of the events of the last book didn’t happen, and when she does acknowledge they happened, she pretty much claims she did nothing wrong which I find completely ridiculous! As far as I’m concerned, she messed up big time in the last book and she’s lucky Thomas even forgave her.
Putting all of my issues with the romance part of this novel aside, the murder mystery was a total flop. The identity of the murderer was ridiculously obvious to me and he was kind of just thrown into the second half of the book (because we don’t really see him at all until the latter half of the book thanks to the romance issues in the first half.) And Audrey Rose makes some very poor choices that result in her almost being killed (which could have totally been avoided.) On top of all that, the ending of this book didn’t provide much closure at all as far as the murder mystery goes.
After the last book, I figured I wouldn’t like this book very much, but I hadn’t completely given up on that. I thought maybe this book could redeem the series for me; I had no idea that it would actually be even worse than the third book. With the first half of the book seeming like a cheesy soap opera and the second half being a flop of a murder mystery, I was very disappointed with the way this series turned out. I loved the first two books so I might just pretend that the series ends there.
This series started off on a high note, but for me, it crashed and burned. I think I’m just going to pretend it was a duology because that would be a lot less disappointing. For the readers who loved the last two books, I’m truly sorry but I was not a fan. I’d still be willing to recommend the first two books to others, but I would definitely not recommend the series as a whole at this point. If you actually read this far, thank you! Sorry for all the ranting above! Thanks for checking out this post and I hope you all have a great week!