Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco: A Spoiler-Free Review

September 3, 2022

I finally cracked open my copy of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco this week and I devoured it in just a couple of days. It's been a while since I've done a book review, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity! 

The book follows Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a highborn daughter to a Lord who is passionate about the forensic sciences-- a male's field that is considered beyond inappropriate for women. Despite her status and home in Belgrave Square, Audrey Rose spends most of her time apprenticing with her uncle alongside her arrogant classmate Thomas. There, they perform autopsies and strive to advance the field of medicine. When her uncle begins assisting police in the gruesome murders plaguing the Whitechapel neighborhood of London, the three set out to identify and catch the killer dubbed Leather Apron. Later, the killer will give himself the nickname by which we all know him-- Jack the Ripper. 

This book immediately transported me into Audrey Rose's world and never let me go. Maniscalco filled the book with such rich detail and imagery that I was clinging onto her every word. Nothing felt redundant or over-explained. I had my suspicions about who Jack could be (which were later proved correct) but these were based on mere subtleties-- they weren't given away easily. The author did a great job at setting up the plot and at times I was even questioning my own theory. 

The novel dealt with family dynamics, grief, romance, and of course the murders themselves. I think the author did a great job at not overdoing any of the themes, creating a perfectly balanced story with the murders in the spotlight. Not only was it evident how much Audrey Rose cared for her family, but she also recognized her own entitlements and others' circumstances that they had no control over. I particularly thought her view of the women who found themselves in sex work in 1880s London to be revolutionary for the time period. 

"It was such an unfair, cruel world for women. If you were a widow or your husband or family disowned you, there were few avenues available for feeding yourself. It hardly mattered if you were highborn or not. If you couldn't rely on someone else's money and shelter, you survived the only way you could."

I especially liked Audrey Rose's character and that she wasn't "not like the other girls" because of her interest in the forensic sciences. She still very much enjoyed getting dressed up, and even enjoyed the time spent with her cousin, Liza, who she'd previously thought to be a typical highborn socialite. I really liked their exchanges and watching Audrey Rose's prejudices toward her cousin dissipate as she realized Liza's quiet genius, later noting, "My cousin was smart, unabashedly feminine, and comfortable playing by her own version of society's rules."

Overall, this book was such a fun read. It's been a long time since I've read a book this exciting. As I've already said, it hooked me from the start and never let me go. Each chapter was filled with more mystery and death that continually raised the stakes until its satisfying conclusion. This is going to be one of those books I wish I could read for the first time all over again. This is the first book I've read by Maniscalco, and I'm so glad that I already own Kingdom of the Wicked because I can't get enough of her writing. And yes, I've already purchased the second book in the series: Hunting Prince Dracula.

Rating: 9/10

Note: I would warn readers that are squeamish to perhaps look elsewhere as there are a lot of descriptive scenes that may be uncomfortable or difficult for some to get through.

All opinions expressed are my own. You can add me on Goodreads to keep up with my current reads here!