After solving the copy-cat Dracula murders in Romania, Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell were invited by Audrey’s uncle to the United States to help solve another forensic mystery. On the boat Etruria, murders inspired by the performing Moonlight Carnival force Audrey and Thomas to solve rush the solve before more passengers are killed.
This book was a really difficult read. As I mentioned, I adored the first two books in this series. I loved the mystery-solving power-couple that Audrey Rose and Thomas came to be throughout the first two books. I’m not the biggest fan of romance, so the fact that I found a series where I actually enjoyed it was amazing to me. So it was a pretty big let down when the third book in the series not only introduced a second love interest for Audrey, but also used the murders to drive a wedge between Audrey and Thomas.
Escaping From Houdini looked like it could be an amazing read, but the moment the Moonlight Carnival and Mephistopheles was introduced, I knew I would have more than a few problems. Mephistopheles is the “Ring Leader” of the Moonlight Carnival, and he is also the new love interest for Audrey Rose. With the murders circling around the Moonlight Carnival, it felt really wrong and foolish for Audrey to suddenly excuse Mephistopheles’s suspicious behavior because he’s interesting. His character also drove a wedge between Audrey and Thomas, which basically ruined one of my favorite things about these books: Audrey and Thomas’s banter. Audrey was more focused on getting to know Mephistopheles than she was on solving this murder.
However, when Mephistopheles wasn’t present, Audrey and Thomas were just as good as they were in the first two books. Smart, loving, and focused on each other but also the mystery. I loved their mystery-solving duo, so the fact that Mephistopheles was driving a wedge between them was really painful. It was like Maniscalco was deconstructing all of her hard work with every scene Mephistopheles was in.
I also really wasn’t the biggest fan of the mystery in this one. I don’t know if it was because Audrey was so focused on Mephistopheles, but the mystery was so much less developed than in the other books. At the very end of the book, Maniscalco was able to weave in three other different possible murderers, and there was really no clues towards who it could be. It could’ve been this one or this one or that one, and there were no clues for readers to go by to make their own guesses. Thomas was so focused on Audrey and Audrey was so focused on Mephistopheles that I felt like the murders weren’t really much of a problem for them.
Also, for a book named after him, Houdini was barely apart of the story. At first I thought that maybe Mephistopheles was Houdini before he started using his own name, but they’re two different characters. Houdini made a few appearances here and there, mainly in relation to Audrey’s cousin, but other than that? There wasn’t much “escaping” to be doing from Mr. Houdini.
As usual, Maniscalco’s writing was beautiful, and I really have to admit that Maniscalco’s writing is some of my favorite to read. Maniscalco focuses on the beauty, and with the Moonlight Carnival, we really got some beautiful imagery.
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Compared to the other books in this series, I was really disappointed. In the previous books, Maniscalco was able to weave in the murder mystery along with the romance between Thomas and Audrey masterfully. In this book, however, she tried to add in another player, which really discounted from both the mystery and the already present romance. I feel like there were many other ways to add something new in, but instead the author when with the overused obvious: a love triangle.
Would I Recommend?
I’ve seen people who have read the first two who loved this book, and I’ve seen people who’ve disliked it just like I have. I guess it’s just the question of what you like about the first two books, and how much you’re willing to give up in exchange for what the fourth and final book of this series might turn into.
Published: September 18th, 2018
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Presents
Page Count: 436
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Horror
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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 passengers 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 traveling 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 gruesome 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?
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