Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passen-gers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a travel-ing troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, 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 ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the grue-some investigation as even 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?

Escaping from Houdini is a well crafted historical mystery from Kerri Maniscalco. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. Audrey Rose and Thomas continue to take us on an adventure that left me guessing until the end how the clues all fit together.

I love Audrey Rose and Thomas. As a team they are unstoppable but separately their quirks and intelligence make them interesting characters to read. I feel like we get a lot of Audrey Rose on her own in this story but she always comes back to Thomas her rock. I love the strong relationship they have and how much trust they put into the other. Although it is interesting to see Audrey Rose be the more aloof one and Thomas with more insecurities in their relationship. It always feels like a swap when you see that in a story. I feel like it’s often the MC who has the insecurities.

As far as the love triangle in concerned, I actually loved it. I love how natural it is and that it was more realistic. Yes you can love some with what feels like every part of your heart but we often forget how big our hearts are. There is no limit and I think the fact that Audrey Rose and Mephistopheles have a connection doesn’t make her awful. That’s when trust really comes into play.

I love the way that Kerri Maniscalco weaves prominent historical figures into her story. In a way that is not derailing history, only enhancing it. This one focused around Harry Houdini but it was really about an attraction called the Midnight Carnival. I love all things Circuses and Carnivals because it’s so easy to bring magic into it. This setting was perfect for the murder mystery taking place, as the deaths involved more theatrics. I thought it was interesting the way the clues left and although I had my suspicions about who the victims would be, I felt like the murderer really alluded me until the end. I loved how it was enough clues to keep me intrigue but also didn’t give everything away. I could enjoy the story until the reveal without going, eh I already knew. Plus the imagery was fantastic!

I loved loved this book. It’s one that is meant to be devoured quickly, with tea, darkness and a cozy blanket.

Author Interview

1. How much time do you spend on research and what sources do you use?

Honestly, the sources vary from book to book depending on the location and the crimes. For STALKING JACK THE RIPPER one of my favorite Ripper sources was Research is something I do heavily prior to writing a first draft and takes up the most of my time. I like to have all the facts first before I decide what to embellish. For the card tricks used in ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI I spent an embarrassingly long time watching youtube videos posted by magicians. (Same goes for researching Houdini’s tricks and illusions.) I tried practicing the tricks and was abysmal at it, but I had a lot of fun!

2. What interested you in the Historical-Fiction genre. What other genres would you like to take on?

Something I’m drawn to with historical fiction is how much it reminds me of fantasy with its lush settings. I think that’s because so many fantasy books have historical bents to them that I’ve always felt my writing tended toward that genre. From that answer it’s obvious I have a HUGE fondness for fantasy. I also adore gothic horror writers like Poe—he was a master at bringing a setting to life and making you wonder at the house you’re staying in. Before I published SJTR I’d written science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and even dabbled in a contemporary fantasy/treasure hunt.

3. How do you outline? (paper, post-its, google docs)

Oh man this is always such a hard question because I haven’t used the same method for any of the books in this series! Most authors will tell you there’s a definite difference from writing that debut novel prior to deadlines and then drafting that next book under contract.

I also faced a different sort of challenge while drafting HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI. My chronic Lyme symptoms had been at their worst—my brain fog mimicked dementia, so I had to think outside of the box to get words on the page. For EFH I wrote scenes and chapters out of order and then pieced them together. And for SJTR 4 I created a bulletin board and filled it with post-its for each character. The moral of this story? Any method is the right or best method for you, and never be afraid of testing new ones out!

4. Did you have any input into your cover?

I’m very, very lucky that I do get to take (a small) part in the cover process. With this cover I felt passionately about having it be an inky blue to match both the Moonlight Carnival theme, and the midnight ocean they’re traveling through. I also asked if Audrey Rose could be holding custom tarot cards, and Tracy (the INCREDIBLE head of the art department) worked her magic as usual!

5. What was your favorite scene or character to write?

Oh my gosh…how can I answer this?!?!? There are so many for so many different reasons! There were a lot of really hard scenes in this book, but they were so important to reaching that epic finale. I wanted both Audrey Rose and Thomas to face challenges and watch how they dealt with unexpected turbulence. Audrey Rose is always a favorite, but then again, so is Thomas. But I think for this story, I had the most fun with Mephistopheles, the enigmatic and mysterious ringmaster. I’d love to delve into his world more—uncover his secrets and see what else might be hiding up his sequined sleeves.

6. Describe your book in 5 words.

Victorian Gothic Circus From Hell.
(Hey look at that…I managed to sneak a Jack the Ripper pun into that too ;)

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, 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.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Author photo credit: Kelli Maniscalco

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Prize: One ARC of Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (USA only)
Starts: 9/12/18
Ends: 9/26/18

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