Escaping From Houdini

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By Kerri Maniscalco

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The #1 bestselling series that started with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula continues its streak in this third bloody installment . . . Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell find themselves aboard a luxurious ocean liner that becomes a floating prison of horror when passengers are murdered one by one, with nowhere to run from the killer. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria , Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are 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 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 more and more bizarre. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation before 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?

Excerpt

RMS Etruria




ONE

MOONLIGHT CARNIVAL

RMS ETRURIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

1 JANUARY 1889

New Year’s afternoon aboard the Etruria began like a fairy tale, which was the first indication a nightmare lurked on the horizon, waiting, as most villains do, for an opportunity to strike.

As our cruise liner prepared to leave port, I ignored twinges of unease in favor of the lush fantasy world before us. It was the start of a fresh year, a new chapter, a wonderful opportunity to put dark events of the past behind us and stare ahead into the bright future.

A future that might soon bring a wedding… and a wedding night.

I took a steadying breath and glanced at the stage in the center of the grand dining saloon. Heavy velvet curtains—an ink blue so dark they appeared black—shimmered with tiny sparkling gems whenever light caught them. Aerial performers in diamond-encrusted bodices twirled on silver threads, beautiful spiders spinning webs I was hopelessly caught up in.

Round tables dotted the floor like well-placed constellations, their moon-white linens strewn with flowers in purples, creams, and blues. Among many modern conveniences, the Etruria boasted a hothouse, and the scents of jasmine, lavender, and other midnight notes wafted around, inviting yet dangerous—not unlike the masked performers soaring above us. They swung effortlessly from one trapeze to the next, letting go without fear of falling as they flew through the air and snatched the next bar with ease.

“The long trains on their costumes make them look like shooting stars, don’t they? I should love to have a dress made with as many gemstones one day.” Miss Prescott, daughter of the chief magistrate across the table, sighed deeply. With her caramel hair and cunning brown eyes, she reminded me of my cousin Liza. She set her champagne flute down and leaned close, dropping her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Have you heard the legend of Mephistopheles, Miss Wadsworth?”

I tore my gaze from the hypnotic scene above once more and shook my head. “I can’t say that I have. Is that what tonight’s performance is based on?”

“I suppose it’s time for a story.” Captain Norwood, the proud captain of the Etruria, cleared his throat, gaining the attention of our table, including the Prescotts; Uncle Jonathan; my chaperone, Mrs. Harvey; and the wickedly enchanting Mr. Thomas Cresswell, the young man who’d won my heart as deftly as any cardsharp winning hand after hand at his game of choice.

Accompanied by my uncle, Thomas and I had spent two grueling days traveling from Bucharest to Liverpool to board the Etruria before it set out for New York. We’d found creative ways of stealing kisses on our journey, and each secret encounter flashed through my mind unbidden—my hands in his dark brown hair, his lips igniting flames along my skin, our—

Miss Prescott gently nudged me under the table, returning my attention to the conversation.

“… if, of course, legends are to be believed. Named after a character from German folklore, Mephistopheles is a demon in the Devil’s employ,” Captain Norwood said. “Known for stealing the souls of those already corrupt, he’s full of magic and trickery, and he happens to be one spectacular showman. Here, look at these tarot cards he’s made for the tables. Each card features one of his performers.” He held up a gorgeous set of handpainted cards. “I guarantee you’re in for a week of unparalleled magic and mystery,” he continued. “Each night will bring a new carnival performance, never before seen. This ship will be the talk of legends, mark my words. Soon every cruise liner will host similar entertainments. It will be the start of a new era of travel.”

I raised a brow at his near-reverent tone. “Are you suggesting you’ve hired a demon to entertain us and it’s sure to become all the rage, Captain?”

Thomas choked on his water, and Miss Prescott shot me a mischievous grin. “Is there a church or chapel on the ship?” she asked, all round eyes and innocence. “What shall we do if we’re tricked out of our souls, sir?”

The captain lifted a shoulder, enjoying the mystery. “You’ll both have to wait and see. It shan’t be much longer now.” He returned his attention to the adults, when Miss Prescott leapt up from her seat, startling me and earning a disapproving glare from her father.

“One more little clue, please?”

Maybe it was the devil in me, but I couldn’t help adding, “I would hate to be so overcome with hysteria that I abandoned the ship. We’re not too far from port, are we? Perhaps I might swim…”

Miss Prescott slowly blinked in appraisal. “Indeed, Captain. In fact, I feel a bit of a fainting spell coming on this very moment! Do you think it’s Mephistopheles?” she asked, voice rising in pitch. “Does his trickery work from a distance? I wonder how many he can affect at once.”

I peered at her, leaning in as if to medically inspect her. “You do appear a bit pale, Miss Prescott. Does your soul feel attached to your person?”

Thomas snorted, but didn’t dare interrupt this new show taking place. With my deep blue silk evening gown, midnight gloves that extended past my elbows, and sparkling jewels draped over my collarbone, I felt nearly as bedazzling as the acrobats flying above us.

Miss Prescott wrapped her gloved hands around her throat, eyes going wide. “You know, I do feel strange. Lighter, even.” She swayed on her feet and clutched her center. “Should we call for smelling salts, Captain?”

“I don’t believe it’s necessary,” he said, inhaling deeply, no doubt regretting pairing the two of us together. “I assure you, this Mephistopheles is harmless. He is just a man pretending to be a legendary villain, nothing more.”

“I swear my soul is getting weaker. Can you tell? Do I look more… transparent?” Her eyes grew nearly to the size of saucers as she dropped into her seat and glanced around. “I wonder if there’s a spirit photographer aboard. I’ve heard they can capture such things on film. My clothing isn’t becoming indecent, is it?”

“Not yet.” I bit my lip, trying to keep the smile out of my voice and off my face, especially since Mrs. Prescott seemed ready to burst from fury at her daughter’s act. “We might be able to weigh you to see if there’s any difference.”

Uncle paused his conversation with Thomas, shaking his head ever so slightly, but before he could comment, an attendant hurried over and handed him a telegram. He read it, twisting the ends of his pale mustache, and folded the paper up, shooting me an inscrutable look.

“If you’ll excuse me.” Uncle stood. “I must tend to this at once.”

Miss Prescott’s eyes sparkled. “Your uncle must be off on secret forensic business. I’ve read stories in the papers regarding your involvement with the Ripper murders. Did you and Mr. Cresswell truly stop a vampire in Romania from slaying the King and Queen?”

“I—what?” I shook my head. “People have been writing about me and Thomas in the papers?”

“Indeed.” Miss Prescott sipped her champagne, eyes following Uncle as he exited the room. “Most everyone in London has been whispering about you and your dashing Mr. Cresswell.”

I could not focus on the spectacle my own life was taking on. “Pardon me. I must get some… air.”

I half rose, unsure if I should follow Uncle, when Mrs. Harvey patted my hand. “I’m sure everything is fine, dear.” She nodded toward the stage. “It’s about to begin.”

Tendrils of smoke unfurled around the inky curtains, the scent strong enough to evoke a few coughing fits throughout the room. My nose burned, but it was a minor nuisance compared to how quickly my pulse now raced. I wasn’t sure if it was Uncle’s swift departure, the information regarding Thomas and myself being known for our forensic skills, or the anticipation of tonight’s performance that was to blame. Perhaps it was all three.

“Ladies. Gentlemen.” A deep male voice intoned from everywhere at once, forcing passengers to twist in their seats. I craned my own head around, searching for the man behind the disembodied voice. He must have engineered some mechanism to project himself around the room. “Welcome to the show.”

A buzz shot through the saloon as those few words echoed. In the silence that followed, cymbals trilled lightly, building into a crescendo that clashed as servers lifted silver cloches from our plates, revealing a meal fit for royalty. No one seemed to notice the mushroom-gravy-topped filets or fried potatoes that were arranged in a grand pile, our hunger no longer for food, but to hear that mysterious voice once more.

I peeked at Thomas and smiled. He moved about in his seat as if hot coals had been placed randomly and he had to shift or remain still and get burned.

“Nervous?” I whispered as the aerial performers gracefully descended, one by one.

“Of a performance that boasts of causing arrhythmia, according to this program?” He flicked the black-and-white-striped show bill he held. “Not at all. I cannot wait for my heart to burst. Really livens up an otherwise monotonous Sunday evening, Wadsworth.”

Before I could respond, a drum thundered and a masked man emerged from a cloud of smoke in the center of the stage. He wore a frock coat the color of an opened vein and a starched shirt and trousers that were an endless black. Scarlet ribbons and silver bullion trimmed his top hat, and a burnished filigree mask covered everything from his nose up. His mouth curved in wicked delight as every eye in the saloon went to him and each jaw dropped.

Men jumped in their seats; women’s fans snapped open, the sound akin to a hundred birds taking flight. It was unsettling, witnessing a man materialize, unscathed by the tempest raging about him. Whispers of him being the Devil’s heir reached my ears. Or Satan himself, as Miss Prescott’s father would have it. I nearly rolled my eyes. I should hope he’d have better judgment as a chief magistrate. This was clearly the ringmaster.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” The masked man bowed, mischief sparking in his eyes as he slowly drew himself back up. “I am Mephistopheles—your guide through the strange and magnificent. Each night the Wheel of Fortune will choose your entertainer. However, you may barter with performers after the main show and indulge in any of our acts. From flame swallowers to lion tamers, fortune-tellers, and knife throwers, your wish is our command. I warn you, though, beware of midnight bargains, taking your fate in your own hands is poorly advised.”

Passengers fidgeted, probably wondering at the sort of bargains they might make—how low they might fall in the pursuit of pleasure so far from society’s watchful shores.

“Our tricks might appear sweet, but I promise they are not treats,” he whispered. “Are you brave enough to survive? Perhaps you’ll be another who loses their heart and their head to my midnight minstrel show. Only you can decide. Until then?”

Mephistopheles prowled onstage, a caged animal waiting for an opportunity to strike. My heart thudded wildly. I had the distinct impression we were all prey dressed in our finest, and if we weren’t careful, we’d be devoured by his mysterious show.

“Tonight is the first of seven in which you will be dazzled.” The ringmaster lifted his arms, and a dozen white doves flew from his sleeves into the rafters. A few excited cries erupted, Mrs. Harvey and Miss Prescott among the first.

“And horrified,” he continued, a slight croak now in his voice. From one blink to the next, his tie was no longer made of cloth—it was a writhing snake, wrapping itself about his neck. Mephistopheles clutched his throat, his bronze face turning a deep purple under the filigree mask. My own breath caught when he bent over and sputtered, gasping for air.

I almost stood, convinced we were bearing witness to this man’s death, but forced myself to breathe. To think. To compile facts like the scientist-in-training I was. This was only a show. Nothing more. Surely no one was going to die. My breath came in short gasps that had nothing to do with the corset of my fine dress. This was utterly thrilling and horrible. I hated it almost as much as I loved it. And I adored it more than I cared to admit.

“Good heavens,” Miss Prescott muttered when he dropped to his knees, wheezing. His eyes rolled backward until all I saw were their whites. I held my own breath, unable to release the tension in my spine. This had to be an illusion. “Someone help him!” Miss Prescott cried. “He’s dying!”

Sit down, Olivia,” Mrs. Prescott whispered harshly. “You’re not only embarrassing yourself, but me and your father as well.”

Before anyone could aid the ringmaster, he pried the serpent away and drew in air as if he’d been submerged in the seawater we traveled through. I slumped back, and Thomas chuckled, but I couldn’t quite pull my gaze from the masked man onstage.

Mephistopheles shoved himself into a standing position, staggered a bit, then slowly lifted the snake above his head—light from the chandeliers caught his mask, turning half his face a furious orange-red. Perhaps he was angry—he’d tested us and found us lacking. What well-dressed monsters we must seem, carrying on with our elegant supper while he fought for his life, all for nothing more than our mere entertainment.

He spun in a circle, once, twice, and the slithering beast disappeared. I leaned forward, blinking as the ringmaster proudly bowed to the audience again, hands no longer occupied by the serpent. A roar of applause went up.

“How in God’s name?” I mumbled. There were no boxes or places for him to have hidden the snake. I sincerely hoped it didn’t find its way to our table; Thomas would surely faint.

“You might even fall…” he called as he somersaulted across the stage, top hat remaining in place without his touching it, “… in love.”

Mephistopheles tipped the hat and it tumbled down his arm as if it were an acrobat vaulting over a trapeze. Like any great showman, he held it out so we could see it was a regular top hat, if not a bit gaudy. Once he’d made an entire circuit around the stage, he tossed it in the air, then snatched it back with a snap of his wrist. I watched, unblinking, as he stuck his arm in up to his elbow and yanked out a dozen ink-blue roses.

His hat had been utterly ordinary. I was almost certain of it.

“I warn you once more—do not get too attached.” Mephistopheles’s voice boomed so loudly I felt an echo of it in my own chest. “While we boast death-defying acts, no one escapes its grip forever. Will tonight be the end for some? Will you lose your hearts? Or perhaps,” he grinned over his shoulder at the crowd, “you will lose your heads.”

A spotlight illuminated a crudely painted harlequin doll—which hadn’t been there a moment before. Pivoting in a single, graceful movement, the ringmaster threw a dagger across the stage. It flew blade over handle, sinking into the doll’s neck with a thwack that hushed the audience. For a taut moment nothing happened. All was wretchedly still. We sat there, scarcely breathing, waiting. The doll’s body stubbornly remained pinned to the board it had been propped against. Another moment passed and Mephistopheles tsked.

“Well. That won’t do.” He stomped his feet. “Everyone… do as I do!”

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

Passengers obliged, slowly at first, then sent the dining saloon into a vibrating frenzy. China rattled, silverware scuttled across tables, goblets sloshed merlot onto the expensive linens, our tables now appearing more like crime scenes than elegant spreads. Deciding to let go of my well-bred reserve a bit, I stomped along. Thomas, a bemused expression on his face, followed my lead.

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

The pounding drummed into each of my cells, prompting my blood to pump to the beat. It was animalistic and feral, and yet so… thrilling. I could not believe so many lords and ladies and highborn passengers of first class were swept up in the hedonism and debauchery.

Mrs. Harvey brought her gloved fists down on the table, adding a new fervor to the sound thrumming in my ears. Miss Prescott did the same. A breath later the doll’s head thumped to the floor, rolling toward the ringmaster’s gleaming boots.

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. It seemed no one was quite ready to give up the devil’s rhythm once it had started. Mephistopheles was the conductor of this wicked symphony, his hand punching the air as the stomp stomp stomping reached a fever pitch.

“Silence!” he shouted, voice booming above everything else. As if he were a puppet master snipping strings, the clomping of feet ceased. Some in the crowd stood, cheering, while a few men in silk top hats whistled loudly.

Miss Prescott rose from her seat, face flushed and eyes bright, completely unaffected by the glare her parents leveled at her. “Bravo!” she called out, clapping. “I said bravo!”

Mephistopheles gazed at the severed head with a thoughtful expression, as if he was reliving a memory that haunted him, something wretched enough he’d never escape it, no matter how far he’d run. I imagined, like his elaborate illusions, nothing was quite as it seemed where he was concerned. To my astonishment, he picked up the doll’s head and kicked it into the air, where it exploded in fireworks that sprinkled down like fallen stars, burning out before they reached the black-and-white-tiled floor. Silence fell upon us all.

“So, I inquire once more, which will you lose before the week is through? Your heart? Your head? Perhaps,” he drawled, face cast in shadows as the chandeliers dimmed slowly before winking out, “you will lose your life, your very soul, to this magical traveling show.”

I gasped and held my gloved hands up, but could only make out the barest hint of them. My heart pumped faster as I glanced around the pitch blackness, enraptured yet terrified of what monster might be lurking. Seemed I wasn’t the only one intrigued. Excited murmurs rippled through the darkness. The promise of death was as alluring, if not more so, than the prospect of falling in love. What morbid creatures we were, craving danger and mystery in place of happily-ever-afters.

“For now,” he continued, his voice a smooth caress in the dark, “enjoy an evening of magic, mischief, and mayhem.” My palms dampened and I couldn’t help sitting forward, needing another word, another clue, another bit of the surreal. As if he’d heard my inner longings, Mephistopheles spoke again. “Esteemed passengers of the Etruria… please indulge your senses in the greatest show from sea to sea,” he crooned. “Welcome to Mephistopheles’s Magnificent Minstrel Show, or as it’s better known… the Moonlight Carnival!”

Lights flashed on, the brightness stinging as I blinked dark spots away. A moment later, Mrs. Harvey shoved away from our table, face as pale as a specter. Thomas reached out to steady her, but she raised a shaking hand.

I followed her gaze and bit my tongue hard enough to taste copper. Miss Prescott—the young woman clapping with delight moments before—lay facedown, unmoving, in a pool of blood with nearly a dozen knives stuck deep in her velvet-covered back.

I stared, waiting for her to gasp out or twitch. To toss her head back and laugh, having fooled us with her performance. But that was an illusion of my own making.

Miss Prescott was truly dead.




TWO

FROM DREAMS TO NIGHTMARES

DINING SALOON

RMS ETRURIA

1 JANUARY 1889

For a moment, nothing happened except for the growing ringing in my ears. Thomas might have been calling my name, but I couldn’t focus on anything other than forcing myself to breathe. I needed to be rational and analytical, but my emotions weren’t quite ready to comply. I studied the dead, but sitting beside a person who’d been murdered was incomprehensible.

The room twisted as I stood and everything became scorchingly hot. I tried convincing myself it was a terrible dream, but Mrs. Prescott’s guttural scream erupted, drawing a hundred pairs of eyes our way, and I knew it was real.

Passengers at other tables gasped, their expressions filled not with repulsion but… delight as they spied the young woman lying in her own blood with ten dinner knives following the length of her spine. I slowly blinked at the people who were starting to clap, stomach churning, until the truth hit me: they thought this was another act.

To most in the saloon, Miss Prescott’s “murder” was simply part of the dinner show—and what a magnificent one it was, according to a man at the next table. Thomas was already out of his seat, his attention torn between his sobbing chaperone and me, all the while scanning the perimeter for threats. I wanted to assist him, to be productive and useful, but I could not stop the shrill ringing in my ears or the fog that had descended over my thoughts. Everything seemed to move slowly. Everything except for my heart. That thundered against my ribs in frantic bursts. It was a warning beat, urging me to action, begging me to flee.

“Olivia!” Mrs. Prescott clutched her daughter’s body, tears dripping onto her velvet dress. “Get up. Get up!”

Blood smeared across the tablecloth and Mrs. Prescott’s bodice, the color as dark as my churning emotions. Miss Prescott was dead. I could neither process it nor will my heart to harden and be of use. How could this be?

Captain Norwood was suddenly out of his seat and yelling commands I could not decipher through the relentless ringing in my head. Movement around the table finally forced my gaze away from the knives and blood; diners were being escorted out, though the merriment in the room hadn’t quelled. Except for a few at nearby tables, no one looked especially alarmed. I stared down at the horror, uncertain how anyone might mistake it for an illusion. There was so much blood.

“Wadsworth?” Thomas touched my elbow, his brow crinkled. I stared at him without truly seeing anything. A lively young woman lay dead next to me; the world no longer made sense. “Ghastly though it sounds, pretend it is an equation now.”

Thomas bent until I met his gaze, his expression as strained as I imagined my own. This wasn’t easy for him, either. And if he could turn that cool exterior on, then I could, too. Shaking myself from my own horror, I rushed to Mrs. Prescott’s side, and gently took her hands in mine. It was both to comfort her and preserve the crime scene. Through my storm of emotions I clutched at one fact: a murderer was on board this ship and we needed to isolate clues quickly. As gruesome as it was, we couldn’t disturb the body. At least not yet.

“Come,” I said as tenderly as I could.

“Olivia!” Mrs. Prescott wailed. “Sit up!”

“Look at me, Ruth. Only at me,” Mr. Prescott interrupted his wife’s screams. There was an edge in his voice that carved through her growing hysteria. She straightened, though her lips trembled. “Go to our chambers and instruct Farley to give you a warm brandy. I’ll send Dr. Arden at once.”

I made to go with her when a warm hand came down on my shoulder. Thomas squeezed it in comfort, his golden-brown eyes serious as he inspected me. “I’ll escort Mrs. Prescott and Mrs. Harvey to their chambers, then fetch your uncle.”

He didn’t ask if I’d be all right staying with the body; he trusted I would be. I stared at him a moment more, his confidence proving a balm to my raw nerves, soothing my fears. I nodded once, took another deep breath, then faced the table. Captain Norwood stared at a playing card stuck to Miss Prescott’s back I hadn’t noticed. It was directly in the center of her spine. My blood chilled. Whoever had thrown the knife had impaled the card through the blade first. A potential warning and a clue.

“I’ll need this area to be left precisely as it is, Captain,” I said, falling back on months of forensic training while Thomas guided the two women out. Uncle would be proud; I’d collected my emotions like anatomical specimens and stored them away to dissect later. “You’ll also need to question everyone in this room.”

“The lights were out, Miss Wadsworth.” Norwood swallowed hard, his focus sliding back to the knives in Miss Prescott’s spine and the torn card. “I doubt they witnessed anything useful.”

I longed to smack him upside the head with that obvious remark. The lights had only been out briefly—someone might have noticed suspicious behavior prior to that.

“Humor me then, sir,” I said, using my best authoritative tone. The captain clamped his jaw. It was one thing to hear commands from a man, but from a seventeen-year-old girl it was quite another. For the sake of the murdered woman before us, I let my annoyance go. “My uncle is an expert with reading a crime scene,” I added, sensing the captain’s wavering decision. “It’s what he’d advise.”

He ran a hand down his face. A death on the first night of the Moonlight Carnival didn’t bode well for his future plans. “Very well. I’ll send crew to everyone’s rooms tonight.”

At a signal from the captain, attendants swept into the saloon like a well-dressed army, ushering members of first class out as calmly as they could. A few guests threw nervous glances our way, but most were excitedly chattering on about how lifelike the performance was. How real the blood appeared. And how on earth had the ringmaster managed to make the knives in the back look so authentic? Captain Norwood said nothing to confirm or deny these theories. He stood, face grim, and bid the passengers good evening.

As the room emptied, an uncomfortable feeling tingled down my own spine. I turned, surprised to find Mephistopheles staring from the stage, expression impossible to read behind his mask. Unlike the others, however, his attention wasn’t on the murdered girl. He was watching me. His gaze was heavy, almost tangible, and I wondered what he’d seen or might know. I took a step in his direction, intent on asking him these questions and more, but he faded into the shadows and disappeared for good.

The chamber we’d been offered for Miss Prescott’s postmortem reminded me of a dank cave.

We were deep within the bowels of the Etruria,

Genre:

  • Praise for Escaping from Houdini:

  • "Audrey Rose is a witty, resourceful feminist who refuses to bow to Victorian-era gender norms. 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."—Kirkus

  • "Every sentence of this novel drips with decadence. The settings and Midnight Carnival performances are lush yet dangerous, beautiful yet terrifying. It was easy to understand just how Audrey Rose comes to be so enthralled with the Midnight Carnival and the performers because, as readers, we're put under the same exact spell.... Masterfully crafted."—Hypable

  • "Maniscalco's winning combinations of historical fiction, romance, forensics, and a feisty heroine will attract historical-fiction and romance readers....Well-placed hooks advance the plot and sustain the swift pace."—Booklist

  • "Displaying her usual fierce determination and progressive ideals, Audrey Rose is once again a compelling protagonist. Another delightfully mysterious addition to the series."—School Library Journal

  • "Young adult readers of crime novels will thrill to Maniscalco's labyrinthine plot and the gruesome secrets it reveals. And yet Escaping from Houdini is also a love story, one in which Audrey Rose's love for the charming and stalwart Thomas is tested by the exhilarating freedom represented by Mephistopheles's unorthodox lifestyle. As one member of the Moonlight Carnival muses, 'Normal is boring. Extraordinary is memorable.' Like-minded readers will find Maniscalco's latest foray into nineteenth-century forensic investigation anything but boring."—Chapter16.org

  • Praise for Stalking Jack the Ripper:

    A #1 New York Times Bestseller from its first week!
  • "An entertaining debut full of twists and turns, perfect for fans of historical fiction and mystery."
    --- School Library Journal

  • "Maniscalco has created a serious, sharp-minded, and forward-thinking protagonist in Audrey Rose, whose fearlessness will endear her to readers looking for an engaging historical thriller. Abundant red herrings and a dash of romance round out this gruesome but engrossing story."
    --- Publisher's Weekly

  • *"This audiobook has everything: a true-life tale that has intrigued readers for 100-plus years, a young woman who balks at the constraints put upon women during the Victorian era, a marvelous yet somewhat gruesome mystery, and a narrator who brings you down into Spitalfields as Jack the Ripper earns his name. A must-have."

    ---School Library Journal (*starred review*)
  • "Audrey Rose Wadsworth prefers breeches to ball gowns, autopsies to afternoon tea, and scalpels to knitting needles. Though her father, Lord Edmund, has forbidden it, Audrey covertly studies forensic medicine...while "the Ripper" remains two steps ahead, lurking where Audrey least expects....Maniscalco's portrayal of scientific invention in a newly industrial era will serve as a fine first foray into Victorian classics."
    ---Booklist

  • "Audrey is a young woman eager to use her brains and willing to flaunt society's rules....This mystery pays homage to classics like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [and] will satisfy those readers looking for historical mystery, a witty heroine, and a little romance."
    ---School Library Connection

  • Praise for Hunting Prince Dracula:

     
    A New York Times bestseller!
  • "Audrey Rose is a smart, fearless, and progressive heroine. Plenty of red herrings, a conspicuous absence of blood, and a developing romance make this a must-read."

    ---School Library Journal
  • "Readers of the previous mystery will be thrilled to have more of this likable duo. [A] delightful romp into an 1888 Gothic mystery with a hint of romance."

    --- School Library Connection
  • "There are plenty of suspects and red herrings as well as tense escalations....A scenic, twisty mystery."

    --- Kirkus Reviews

On Sale
Oct 2, 2018
Publisher
Hachette Audio
ISBN-13
9781478995975

About the Author

NOVL - Headshot photo of Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside New York City, where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads steamy romance novels, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. She is the author of two #1 New York Times bestselling series; the Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy and the Stalking Jack the Ripper quartet.