reviews

Capturing the Devil: Book Review

Finally, the grand finale of the Stalking Jack the Ripper books. Of course, I had to pitch in my two cents with a book review. To be completely honest, I thought that I wouldn’t like this book as much as the first two. The beginning (well, all the way up to 70%) was very romance-y and cheesy, and didn’t have the gruesome murders that I expected. I expected it to be a 3-star read, but my mind was changed soon after because at 70% through, things start happening, fast.

CAPTURING THE DEVIL – ★★★★

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

CHARACTERS
Okay I’m not going to lie, Thomas’s flirtatious lines started to get cringey in this book. It’s just overdone at this point, so is “I leaned deeper into the kiss”. Is that needed every single time? I think a lot of the Cressworth scenes at the beginning were frilly and irrelevant to the plot, and it took away from the sinister setting. However, I did enjoy the mention and use of Audrey Rose’s cane, because disability rep! And I liked how the PTSD came back, which made a lot of sense because she witnessed so many traumatic things, it would be stranger if she didn’t have visions. I didn’t like how she took all the blame off Nathaniel though. He was the villain in the first book, but now she’s just excusing all his crimes? That’s kind of unsatisfying. And the conflicts with Miss Whitehall and Mephistopheles were wrapped up and resolved too quickly. I hope Kerri Maniscalco will write a novella for Mephistopheles, at least, because I think he’s a very interesting character with motivations to delve into. I hated how Audrey Rose put all the blame on Mephisto though, because in EFH she wasn’t acting out her attraction… It feels like a red flag how she blames Mephisto for everything, just to keep Thomas’s trust. AND THE PRE-WEDDING LMAO am I the only one who was concerned because they’re literally seventeen years old? Look, I love weddings as much as the next person, but if two children (yes I know Thomas just turned 18, my point still stands) are getting married when the average marriage age of that time period is 21, I feel kinda uncomfy. Also, who let these two children into dramatic crime scenes lol that’s fishy. Oh and I don’t love how all the main characters have to have a sPeCiAl point. How many royal families came together to form Audrey Rose and Thomas? Way too many. And Thomas’s frequent declarations of feminism reminded me of Rhysand from ACOTAR in the most hilarious level. It’s in the small actions, love, not announcing that ladies should have free choice every other page. I appreciate the effort though… at least she tried.

PLOT
Okay but despite all the negative things I said about the characters, I still adore this book, especially the last 1/3. Poisons are really my favorite thing to read about, and the atmosphere got super spooky, super fast. I do think that they wrapped it up too quickly, but I’ll accept it because it was just so spooky. But there’s another case of villain monologues, which I don’t love, but that’s okay I guess. I also liked how there were many references to the previous books/crimes they solved. They just… didn’t wrap up the plot points? And Noah Hale was referenced sporadically even though he really had no part in the solving of any of the murders, just there as a background character. The book really only concluded the romance aspect and the “who’s the murderer”, but all the other character arcs were left to our interpretation. It may give the author a plotline to write a future novella about, which hopefully will happen.

SETTING
I think the world fair wasn’t embedded into the story very well? It just touched up on some basics, like Tesla, but it wasn’t established as the scene of the story. I would have liked to see more murders and plot events set in the world fair, especially since it’s talked about in the synopsis. Also, must I mention again that all the romantic things that Audrey Rose and Thomas do in the latter half of the series would have been seriously frowned upon and scorned by the public? How did no backlash happen after they ran away to Chicago to escape from Miss Whitehall? And also I can’t believe Lord Cresswell had a meeting with the Queen lmao that sounds too unreal to be true. How could both Audrey Rose and Thomas be so far up on the social ladder, yet hide it from everyone? I don’t think that’s how word of mouth worked at that time period… People know everything, especially if there’s titles involved. Someone like Thomas wouldn’t have been able to hide it in the middle of London, under public scrutiny. But aside from that, I think this series created a good historical atmosphere for murders taking place in the 1800’s.

CONCLUSION
I liked the first two books of this series for the plot and suspense, but that kinda just up and left for book 3 and only returned in the final 30% of book 4 (this one). Cresswell’s personality was overdone, to the point where being flirtatious was his overarching character trait. Mephistopheles was done dirty in this book and literally half of the characters could have been taken out with no alterations to the plot. But why did I rate it 4 stars? The action at the end really redeemed the whole book, tbh. And I still recommend it to anyone who’s not a big fan of mystery/thriller books, but is interested in period pieces and fantasy. The romance gets amped up too, which is always a plus. Overall, I did enjoy the series, and it’s a great start for my 2021 reads.

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