Aug 28, 2019

Review--Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

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 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 finally picked up Kerri Maniscalco’s Escaping from Houdini, the third installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and I must say, it was a most spectacular read! I had held off reading this one because I thought it ended with a bit of a cliffhanger and while there is some sort of unsettledness at the end, it wasn’t one that would have driven me crazy with desperate need for the next one…just the basic need for the next one! But at least now my wait for the fourth and final installment is all the shorter!

Audrey Rose, Thomas, and her uncle and Thomas’ chaperone are on their way by ship to go to America for a case. But naturally, a case seems to have found them on their way there. While aboard this grand ship guests are entertained by Mephistopheles’ Moonlight Carnival, among the performers is a young, Houdini and everything is exciting and grand…until the first body is found the first night of the carnival. Audrey Rose and Thomas realize that a murderer is on board the ship with them.

I must admit, this murder mystery aspect had a decidedly different feel to it than our previous ones. It seemed scarier as the ship, though grand, is small when you think about trying to hide from said killer. There’s a good deal of passengers on board, plus the crew and captain, the carnival group, and there’s always the possibility that someone snuck on board. The possibilities for suspects is endless despite the tight corridors. The killer could be anyone and anywhere. Hence the terror.

Then there was also a bit more conflict between Audrey Rose and Thomas. I was saddened by this as—vague as my recollections were—I thought they had worked through their issues in Hunting Prince Dracula, but yet it seems this time Audrey Rose has some soul searching to do. Audrey Rose was almost infatuated with the mysterious Mephistopheles. Or perhaps it was the magic he claimed to wield that fascinated her. There’s some connection or other forming between these two and I wasn’t sure what to make of it, to be honest. I wasn’t for it, let’s just say that!

Audrey Rose finds herself needing Mephistopheles’s help in drawing out the killer, for every night a new body is found and the murders seemed to be tied to the carnival itself. Or is that what the killer wants her to think? For the unforeseeable future of this voyage, Audrey Rose must pretend to want to be in a relationship with Mephistopheles and she isn’t allowed to tell Thomas about her act, for reactions and such must appear genuine or Mephistopheles’ circus group would be on to Audrey Rose’s deception. As you might imagine, this presents a bit of conflict between Audrey Rose and Thomas and it killed me! I wasn’t sure or not if Kerri was leading us into a dreaded love triangle or not, though my suspicions were leaning more towards the negative, one can never be too sure.

I was a little surprise that Houdini wasn’t a more centrally focused character given the title. It almost needs to be “Escaping from Mephistopheles” or something! Lol. Audrey Rose really had no matters with Houdini…expect for a little something that pops up in the early days of the trip, but her interactions with Houdini herself were slim in comparison. I mean, I get that the previous titles have “big” names to draw the reader in and it works, but I felt like the last two books had more of a connection for Audrey Rose and the “character” in question. But that’s just me nitpicking, so it wasn’t a big deal!

The mystery itself was fantastic! I don’t know what it is about Kerri’s mysteries but I can never seem to figure out the whodunit! It drives me bonkers and yet I don’t totally mind being wrong. It just surprises me that I’ve yet to be right! Hopefully I can at least figure out the final book, but no promises! The pacing to this one was superb! It takes place over the course of a week or so and as I said, danger strikes every night while the passengers are on board and Audrey Rose and Thomas are finding bodies everywhere it seems! Though what connects all these victims together will be another mystery…one whose ending still surprises me based on a little line that was mentioned and has me thinking it will play a role in the final book.

If you’re a fan of mysteries this is definitely a series you will want to check out! With characters like Jack the Ripper, Dracula, and Houdini making the titles how can one not be drawn to this series? It has everything a reader could want from witty heroines to snarky heroes and downright terrifying villains! It’s a series I’ve enjoyed full-heartedly and will be sadden by when it’s all over! To note, this is a series that you’ll want to read in order because of events getting mentioned back and forth while no spoilers really exist, it’s still logical to read them in the order they were meant to be in.

Escaping from Houdini was a delightfully dark and twisted mystery that I positively couldn’t get enough of! It leaves you just a few crumbs at the end that will have you dying for the finale…ironically named Capturing the Devil and I cannot wait to read it!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars


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