Published: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Page: 436 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.75/5.0
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 was simultaneously skeptical about the quality of this book and intrigued by the plot, so I decided to pick it up. I was actually not disappointed with Escaping from Houdini and had a great time reading it. I know that doesn’t sound like a particularly glowing review, but I had a multitude of issues with the preceding book, Hunting Prince Dracula. This was a great improvement over that and I’ll certainly continue on with the next book in the series because of that improvement.
The biggest improvement was with the characters. In the last book Audrey Rose and Thomas had SO MUCH STUPID DRAMA going on that I wanted to poke their eyes out. Audrey Rose was still traumatized by her brother’s death and his secret identity and she was basically losing her mind in the mountains of Romania. She’s a little more even-keeled this time around and she and Thomas have lessened the amount of idiotic drama between them. That’s not to say it’s stopped entirely, because trust me, it hasn’t. Audrey Rose spends most of the book keeping what she thinks is the direst of secrets from him, but if she’s really as clever as we’re told she is, she would have found a way to convey it to him. I do hope that YA books will one day show the cleverness or toughness of the characters without having to shout it at the reader every six pages.
The next biggest improvement? Why the plot, of course. This time we have murders aboard a luxury ship crossing the Atlantic. It’s like the Titanic, but without the tragedy of the iceberg and all the allure of gruesome murders and a travelling troupe of performers. The murders were rather ghastly and full of dramatic flair, which points to one of the performers as the most likely culprit. But which one? The masked Mephistopheles, who at every turn tries to steal away Audrey Rose’s affection? Or could it be Houdini, who happens to be a master escape artist? Or one of the other dozen or so talented performers who can breathe fire, throw swords with deadly accuracy, or read the future? OR IS IT SOMEONE ELSE ENTIRELY? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!
I was genuinely shocked at how much of an improvement this was over the previous book. Yeah, there was some petty relationship drama that would have been cleared up with some honest discussion, but overall it was a good read. I liked the circus atmosphere and the cultivated terror aboard the ship – nothings scarier than someone murdering guests on board a ship in the middle of the ocean. No escape, no known identity or motive, just the fear. If you didn’t care for Hunting Prince Dracula for some of the same reasons I didn’t, I would suggest maybe you give this book a try!