Review: Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

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Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell trade in the castles of Romania for a transatlantic voyage. Upon the request of Audrey Rose’s uncle, our favorite forensic scientists make their way to America to assist with a case. Little do they know that their ship, the RMS Etruria, would be the setting of their next murder mystery.  

While sitting at dinner on the first night, they watch the ship’s entertainment, the Moonlight Carnival. By the end of the performance, a young woman is dead. Quickly, Thomas and Audrey are thrown into an investigation to prevent future murders. However, every night, a new victim is found.

The head of the carnival, Mephistopheles, takes an interest in Audrey and requests a deal. She needs to play a part in the carnival’s final show and in exchange, he will help her with slight of hand for scientific purposes. There is only one catch: Thomas can’t know about their agreement. 

Audrey Rose’s close arrangement with Mephistopheles caused Cressworth to be at odds for most of the journey. Only in the end, when everything is revealed in the final show, do Thomas and Audrey understand what life would mean if the two parted ways.

Maniscalco knows how to create the perfect mystery, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, Escaping From Houdini did not have as much charm as Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula. We still enjoyed the story, but we did have some issues with it.

The fighting and pseudo-love-triangle between Audrey, Thomas and Mephistopheles felt unnecessary. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that Audrey and Thomas work best together in solving the cases. Their witty banter and adorable flirtations were minimal, which, in our opinion is a shame! Their chemistry is one of the draws of this series, and we wish they would’ve had less miscommunication and more cute moments together. 

We did enjoy the setting and the mystery surrounding the carnival. The tone felt much scarier knowing that the characters couldn’t leave the ship and that time was against them to stop the killer as they drew closer to shore. The carnival and its characters kept things interesting. The late 19th century’s fascination with magic made this story come to life. Not to mention that Harry Houdini made a few appearances throughout the book! We loved that the mystery included fortune tellers, tarot cards and escape tricks.

Overall, we had fun reading this book. Capturing the Devil will be released in September 2019. We can’t wait to read the final installment of this series, which will be set in Chicago. We hope Maniscalco includes many cute Cressworth scenes.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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