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From the Stalking Jack the Ripper series , Vol. 3

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

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 14, 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. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A deep dive into trauma, with light at the end of the tunnel.

A teen’s sense of self is unsettled by a kidnapping.

After a prologue reveals the hero’s captive status, the story introduces Sayers Wayte as he was before—an uber-wealthy, hard-partying, privilege-flaunting Texas teen who’s falling in with a meaner crowd (including a friendship with a bully who ridicules Sayers’ best friend for his bisexuality and targets a vulnerable nerd in encounters that rapidly escalate to disturbing levels off-page). The first act balances Sayers’ charm and potential with his character failings while keeping readers guessing who the kidnapper will be (and what their motivations are). Once he’s been kidnapped, Sayers must attempt to manipulate his kidnapper by playing along with who the kidnapper wants him to be—at first, it’s a ruse to create chances to try to escape, but eventually Sayers’ identity and feelings toward his kidnapper begin to blur. A dangerous discovery pushes his mind to the brink to protect him and keep him alive. Unlike hostage stories that end with the rescue, Roe digs deep into what happens in the aftermath as Sayers tries to learn how to be a functioning individual again and struggles with rebuilding his entire self. There are no easy answers for Sayers’ issues, but with determination and help from key friends, he finds hope. Aside from a character with a Guatemalan father, most characters default to White.

A deep dive into trauma, with light at the end of the tunnel. (Thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305173-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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