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

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ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI

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

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

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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A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a...

NOT EVEN BONES

From the Market of Monsters series , Vol. 1

An adolescent, yet Nietzschean, examination of humanity and horror.

Nita is a monster. Literally. She can heal her own wounds and even block her pain receptors. But she and her mother also deal in monsters, species regulated by the International Non-Human Police, selling their body parts on the black market. Her ghoulish mother hunts and kills, while Nita dissects them with a meditative grace, trying to think of herself as innocent. But when Nita’s conscience inconveniently prevents her from vivisecting a live specimen, she’s kidnapped and taken to the Amazon, caged by people in the same business. Menaced by a zannie (creatures that feed off physical pain) and a ruthless woman, Nita, who is mixed species (with a brown-skinned human father and a nonhuman mother), has to figure out how to escape and whether she has any morals to live by. The vivid setting, Mercado de la Muerte (one of several Death Markets worldwide) in a sweltering South American jungle populated by buyers, sellers, and sold, is matched by a zipping plot interspersed with deliciously horrifying and gory scenes of dismemberment and destruction. Equally intriguing is the constant musing on what makes a monster, how people respond to trauma and control, and how one’s choices affirm or deny one’s own humanity.

A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a pleasingly hard-to-stomach way. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-86354-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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