CAPTURING THE DEVIL by Kerri Maniscalco is a thrilling conclusion that combines all that is thoughtful of the first three along with twists and turns you won’t see coming. I graciously obtained an advanced finished copy from Jimmy Patterson Books and Little, Brown and Co. who kindly sent it to me for an honest review.
Spoilers will start after the short summary during the extended review:
In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.
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?
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Why I was interested: I have been #BingeingtheRipperSeries since I was contacted to receive a finished copy of CAPTURING THE DEVIL since July and I’ve had a fun and fantastic time reading a series from beginning to end, back-to-back. As a history nerd who loves a good mystery, I was thrilled when Little, Brown and Co and Jimmy Patterson Books reached out to me with the offer.
Judge a book by it’s cover: This cover harkens to the series development with Wadsworth taking a stand to acknowledge who she is and what she wants in life. The gold cover is truly beautiful with daring gold details.
What to expect: If you loved RIPPER, DRACULA, HOUDINI, and DARK PRINCE, DEVIL takes all of the fantastic concepts of the first three-and-a-half stories and brings them all together for an on-the-edge-of-your-seat ride through New York City and Chicago.
Why you should pick this book up: This book is a truly thrilling conclusion that answers questions we’ve been harboring for so long: will Wadsworth and Cresswell finally get married? Who is the White City Devil and what does he truly want? And will Wadsworth’s past truly continue to haunt her? All of these and more are answered wonderfully in CAPTURING THE DEVIL.
Want more?: If you love Maniscalco’s work, there is great news! Maniscalco announced that her newest series, first book titled KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, will be released Fall 2020. According to her blog, it is a historical fantasy set in 19th century Sicily — which makes this Italian-heritage girl thrilled! You can add it to your GoodReads here.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ CAPTURING THE DEVIL do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
DEVIL is truly a satisfying finale of Maniscalco’s STALKING JACK THE RIPPER series which combines some of the motifs of the first three books together as Audrey Rose learns to battle the White City Devil herself.
In RIPPER, Maniscalco focuses on the ideas of feminism and how Audrey Rose aspires to be a forensic scientist, something very uncommon for a girl during the 1880s to pursue. Her fight against the Ripper is one for all women — for her optimistic cousin, for the prostitutes the men around her barely acknowledge exist, for her deceased mother, for herself.
In DRACULA and HOUDINI, Maniscalco concentrates on the ideas of what is real and what is a story. Between mythology and telling lies that almost become true, Audrey Rose must learn how to grasp onto facts even as her mind wants her to dive down into possibilities.
In DEVIL, Audrey Rose’s fight is against both the White City Devil and ultimately her inner demons seen as the Devil himself — all under the guise of H.H. Holmes. Audrey Rose’s fears come to life all at once: Jack the Ripper is still alive and hunting women now in New York City and Chicago, her marriage to Cresswell is called off as he is proposed to another via his father, she is deemed “deflowered” and thus “soiled” by society’s standards which can impact her cousin’s chances of marrying, and Holmes tries to persuade her that they are more alike than not with their “obsessions with death.” Each of these ideas weigh heavy on her mind and she must grapple with them in order to defeat the Devil and find her own happily ever after.
When Audrey Rose learns that her brother was not Jack the Ripper and the man who is (Holmes) is continuing his pursuit of young women in New York City and later Chicago, she is determined to stop him for all the women that have been troubled by his actions on both sides of the Atlantic — and once crossing it. Her pursuit for female independence reflects that of the women who are Holmes’ target: those who walk around without a chaperone (or man) to pursue full time jobs (outside of the home) in fields previously not held by women. Holmes sees them as weak and feeble by luring them into his deadly hotel, but truly these women are strong and determined to create lives for themselves. Audrey Rose is also self-sufficient, willing to cast aside antiquated ideas of what a woman must be (including not being interested in the “angel of the house” concept and going against society and sleeping with Cresswell before their marriage the night before), and pursues a job that is anything but expected of her. Her fight against the Ripper is personal but also interpersonal.
In regards to the myths that are constructed in DEVIL, Audrey Rose balances her own fears showing visually such as her dreams featuring the Devil (as seen in DRACULA) as she convinces herself she is not a bad person for enjoying forensic science. Society tells her what she does is wrong and immoral even though she has helped more victims — especially women — who would’ve been overlooked by police.
Both the ideas of battling for women’s equality and against society’s expectations comes together in her fight with Holmes in his castle. He represents both the Devil of her dreams while being the truly terrifying White City Devil preying on young women of America. By defeating Holmes on her own, Audrey Rose proves to herself that she is not like Holmes: he enjoys the act of killing and while she enjoys opening up cadavers, she is doing it for the pursuit of science and helping the victims, not for self-pleasure or power. Symbolically, Holmes is the epitome of the worst of society: a man who kept his wife at home, killing her in the process, and went after women who did not hold up his expectations of them — including Audrey Rose. Ultimately, feminism is not a fantasy: it is a worthy goal Audrey Rose has always fought for both herself and other women and succeeds. As he is turned in for his crimes, Audrey Rose officially denounces society’s expectations of her and her gender, marries the man who supports her, and plans a wedding on her timeline.
DEVIL is a dense yet satisfying finale that packs a punch. Audrey Rose has grown from a girl dressing up as a boy in her uncle’s classroom to a young woman who stands tall as her true self. I will miss Wadsworth and Cresswell’s adventures, but I do look forward to Mansicalco’s clever writing in her next series, KINGDOM OF THE WICKED.
What did you think of Kerri Maniscalco’s CAPTURING THE DEVIL? Have you been bingeing the Ripper series as well? I’d love to hear your comments below!
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