Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
Escaping from Houdini
(Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)
by Kerri Maniscalco
September 18, 2018
416 pages

Goodreads     Indigo

Goodreads Summary:
In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


I felt in love with Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell back when they debuted in Stalking Jack the Ripper. My love for them grew exponentially with Hunting Prince Dracula. Escaping from Houdini delivered on what it promises but regretfully fell short of my high expectations.

While Escaping from Houdini wasn't what I expected I still enjoyed a fair amount of the book. Kerri Maniscalco's writing brought the Moonlight Carnival to life. Magic, mischief and mayhem indeed! Even though each show was more often than not accompanied by a gruesome slaying, they were all spectacular. I couldn't get enough of the performances and how incredible they sound. Even the brutal bits. The descriptive details transported me aboard the RMS Etruria. I was a member enthralled by each wonder and horror.

Normally I love seeing the banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas but the romantic development in Escaping from Houdini pained me. Another guy is introduced and I think you know where this is going... Yes, a dreaded love triangle forms. Logically I understand why Kerri introduced it but emotionally I was upset. It was tough to witness the hurt Audrey Rose's confusion and indecisions caused Thomas. The only comfort was that she came out of the experience smarter and positively sure of her heart.

I'm torn with how I feel about the mystery in Escaping from Houdini. The buildup was engaging but the resolution felt incomplete. I still have questions like why did the murderer steal fabric?? Despite his name being in the title of the book, Houdini wasn't very essential to the plot? The dark and uneasy atmosphere carried the story. Humour and snark were also still present in the series and used to diffuse some of the tenser scenes. "I hoped my expression appeared like longing and not constipation." (ARC, p. 128). Impossible not to laugh ;)

I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of Escaping from Houdini (thank you HBG Canada!) but I've heard the final edition has a different ending. I liked the ending I read but I'm also definitely intrigued to find out how it'll differ.

I couldn't fully love Escaping from Houdini but fingers and toes crossed the fourth and last book in the series will bring back that missing piece for me. I'm so curious to see what kind of finale Ms. Maniscalco will give to these beloved characters. No doubt it'll be grand!
4 Cats
*I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not affected in any way. All quotes were taken from the ARC I received.

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