Titles: 1 – Stalking Jack the Ripper, 2 – Hunting Prince Dracula, 3 – Escaping from Houdini
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery
Plot: 1 – Audrey Rose Wadsworth is an apprentice under her uncle in 1888 in London, England. She is studying forensic science through opening up cadavers. Her apprenticeship is frowned upon as she is of noble birth. Another student, Thomas Cresswell, is apprenticing with her. Not long after she starts, some starts murdering prostitutes on the West End of London. Her uncle has been put in charge of finding out what happen to the women. The people are calling the murderer Jack the Ripper. Audrey Rose helps as best as she can. But her family is falling appart. Her father has been sent to the country for his health. Her brother is constantly coming and going because of his schooling. Can Audrey Rose and Thomas clear her uncle’s name? Can they solve the murders? Who is the murderer? Who is Jack the Ripper? Can she keep her family together? Or will she accept her fate in society? Or be swept away by Jack the Ripper?
2 – Audrey Rose and Thomas are on their way to Romania for a position at a forensic science school. They take the Orient Express to closest city. But along the way, someone is murdered. He was impaled with a stake to the heart. Then Audrey Rose and Thomas read that there are rumors that Vlad the Impaler, more famously known as Dracula, has come back from the dead. Then they learn that the school is in Vlad’s former castle. Audrey Rose is the only girl in the class. No one thinks she has the ability, or should be, to be there. Then, right before classes start, another student is murder. The student has been drained of blood and has two puncture wounds on his neck. Audrey Rose and Thomas learn that the student was the cousin of the crown prince, who is also attending the school. They learn that more have disappeared after some time. The two put the pieces together and learn that Romania’s royal family is being targeted, being murdered and threatened. Audrey Rose and Thomas must hurry to help before the crown prince disappears or is killed. But the school’s headmaster is keeping a very close eye one everyone. No one is permitted to leave their room after the headmaster’s ward disappears, then found dead. Who is behind the murders? Has Vlad really come back to life? Or is someone making it look like he’s come back? Can Audrey Rose and Thomas help? Will professors let them help? Can Audrey Rose and Thomas stay at at the school? Or will they be forced to leave?
3 – Thomas and Audrey Rose have earned themselves a holiday. They take a luxury ship, the RMS Etruria. After dinner, there is a carnival show. The ring master, only known as Mephistopheles, promises mayhem. During the performance, a girl is murdered right next to Audrey Rose when the light are out. This starts a search for murderer. Audrey Rose goes under cover to gain the carnival performer’s trust. She gains Mephistopheles trust first. He sweeps her off her feet. Audrey Rose’s heart is torn as she learns sleight of hand and her part in the show. Each night, someone new is murdered, or found dead, all of them women. No one is certain of how’s committing the murders. Not even Thomas, with his impressive deduction skills can figure it out. Everyone in the troupe has motive and access to the weapons used. Few people in the ship’s crew, including the captain, have a motive as well. Even some of the passengers have a motive. With no where to escape, everyone is becoming scared. Who could be doing this? Is someone in the troupe, ship’s crew, or passengers? Can they solve the murders before they arrive in New York and the murderer escapes? Who will Audrey Rose chose, Thomas or Mephistopheles? Can Audrey Rose and Thomas still work together?
Rating: 4.0 – a great mystery series with some sappy romance
Opinion: I was searching through books at Target when I spotted the first book. I was quickly swept away by the mystery and history. I kind of had an idea of who committed the murders in the first book. The other two were more cleverly crafted and I had a harder time figuring out who did it. The second one had a strong creepy vibe. With the whole Dracula idea, it made sense. There was lots of bats and spiders and dark turns in the book. There were a few times I thought ‘wait, what?! that was unexpected.’ Once or twice there were completely gross parts. In the third book, there were lots of misdirections, as it focuses on magic. There was lots of stuff going on because the voyage was one seven days. I felt bad for Thomas and Audrey Rose to work everything out, but don’t get a chance to because they’re more focused on solving the murder. There is a fourth book coming out soon. I hope they are able to talk through more of their problems in the next one. I hope it’s not one of those ‘we’re not gonna talk about our problems, but act they never happened’ series. It’s good for young adults, or anyone for that matter, to read about realistic relationships. People need ways to learn what healthy relationships look like, too. This was a great series to read. I’d probably say this is good for high schoolers, and upper middle school, and up because of the topics dealt with and how the author describes the murder scenes. It’s not as descriptive as it could have been but proceed with caution. I enjoyed the mysteries greatly and parts of history included. Liberties were taken and the author admits to that. But the author tells a great story and knows what she’s talking about. She defiantly did her research. I recommend this series for those who enjoy a great murder mystery and historical fiction.