A gripping mystery with a compelling heroine and just the right touch of romance (Mystery. 15-adult)


From the Stalking Jack the Ripper series , Vol. 3

In the winter of 1889, a luxury cruise liner leaves Liverpool, England, with a murderer on board.

When forensic scientist-in-training Audrey Rose Wadsworth boards the luxurious Etruria, she anticipates a much-needed vacation before joining a criminal investigation in New York. But a young woman is murdered, setting off a string of killings that forces Audrey Rose to practice her autopsy skills under the guidance of her uncle, a renowned forensic scientist, and in partnership with Thomas Creswell, her fellow apprentice and, she hopes, future husband. As the body count mounts, Audrey Rose goes undercover to investigate the onboard carnival helmed by a mysterious ringmaster, Mephistopheles. The deeper she goes, the more confused she becomes about the killer—and her own desires. Audrey Rose is a witty, resourceful feminist who refuses to bow to Victorian-era gender norms. The book’s love triangle provides a steamy, consensual romance that refreshingly positions her as the arbiter of her own fate. Given the paucity of strong, biracial female characters, it is disappointing that no mention is made (as in a previous entry) of the fact that Audrey Rose has an Indian mother and a white father. The end reveal unsatisfyingly fails to fully describe her epiphany. Overall, though, this dark, gothic landscape is peopled with nuanced, diverse characters who keep readers enthralled.

A gripping mystery with a compelling heroine and just the right touch of romance (Mystery. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55170-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Only marginally intriguing.


In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging


Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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