My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, YA
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Series: Book One of Stalking Jack the Ripper
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
Did anyone else ever have a chapter of history, or a sub-group, or something similar that they were obsessed with? I’ve had several over the years, including the Romanov Family, Dinosaurs, Queen Elizabeth I, and Cleopatra. But one interest that has always stuck around is centered around death. No, I’m not insane, but I am completely fascinated with the history and development of forensic science (did you know that Sherlock Holmes is the first detective to use a magnifying glass at a crime scene?), and for a while I went through a phase that was centered around two men: Jack the Ripper and HH Holmes, two of the most prolific and fascinating serial killers of all time.
Naturally, when I saw this book advertised I knew I had to get my hands on it. A young woman facing off against Jack the Ripper? Sign me up!! I almost bought it on my kindle when it first came out, and I can’t remember exactly why I ended up deciding against it, but I’m just as happy I didn’t. I didn’t pick this up until the other day, and I managed to get my hands on a signed copy!!
Stalking Jack the Ripper has everything that I look for in a good mystery book. Of course, I’m not going to spoil who did it, but I am going to say, you’re never entirely certain who did it (I really didn’t figure it out until a chapter or two before the Big Reveal). You are always left wondering, and knowing that not everything is adding up (there are times that you will be CONVINCED that you know who the Ripper is, but then something else will be revealed and you’ll be confused again).
One thing that frightened me about picking up this book, is that its based on a real historical event that I know a great deal about and set in a historical era that a lot of people mess up. I was very excited then, when I started reading it, to see how close to history it actually is. I was very impressed. Reading through it there was nothing that struck me as hugely wrong or inaccurate and it flowed easily, the setting not getting in the way of the story at all.
I will warn you though, if you’re easily grossed out by blood, guts, and gore, you don’t want to read this. Victorian London was not a clean and pleasant place to be, and this book isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. It is also about a forensic scientist, so there are autopsies and discussion of ripping into bodies (don’t judge me for knowing this, but the aforementioned autopsies are very realistic).
If you’re interested in how close to history this is, make sure you read the author’s notes at the end, where she talks about what she changed (some minor details that I didn’t pick up on and you probably won’t either) and why she did it.
Reading Progress and Updates
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- page 25
- “I dreamed of a day when girls could wear lace and make up-or no make up at all and don burlap sacks if they desired-to their chosen profession without it being deemed inappropriate.”
- She’s more forward thinking than most of the people of today!
- page 48
- “Just because I studied cadavers didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate beautiful garments.”
- Once again she sums me up perfectly.
- page 144
- “Wear your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen that sits that throne. Never forget that. There’s no reason you can’t wear a simple frock to work, then don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”
- Cousin Liza knows what’s up.
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I read the entire book on the day I bought it (shoutout to my doctor who was an hour late starting my appointment!) so clearly it will pull you in. My mom was also thrilled when I came home with it, because apparently she’s had it on her TBR for months as well.
This is also the first book from James Patterson’s new publishing imprint Jimmy Patterson (real original name you picked there, hon) and if the rest of them are anywhere near as good as this one, I cannot wait to read them. I hope they continue to hold any books that they might consider for publication to this standard.
Any fan of murder mysteries or historical fiction is going to love this book, even if YA isn’t your usual genre. Its a book that could be read or enjoyed by people of all ages because, yes, it is a bit long, but the content isn’t too mature or too difficult (don’t think its easy or beneath you though!). Just make sure you read the History section of this review for information on some things that you might not like if you’re easily grossed out.
Now, who’s going to write me an H.H. Holmes book?