Title: Capturing the Devil
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 10 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 4.47 (of 1090 ratings)
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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?
This book. I should have listened to my better judgment and skipped this, which I had intensely thought about after the disaster of the third. While I was disappointed by that addition to an other fun, campy, creepy, and intriguing series, I didn’t think I could handle not knowing how it all ended since I had put my book heart and soul into 3/4 books.
I’m going to skip the rest of the pretense and just jump to the rant.
☠️ I struggled with the writing for most of the book. I’m not sure if I just never noticed it or there was a change to the writing style. Everything was so dramatic, and there were certain keywords that would be repeated over and over again. Every time Audrey Rose would refer to Thomas, he usually would be associated with “prince” or “dark prince.” Maybe it was cute once or twice, but I started rolling my eyes so much, because like, okay, I get it – he’s moody and broody and stormy and princely and rich af. Can we just call him Thomas???
The “devil” motif was used constantly. I do love finding the title in a book, and it almost feels like getting a gold star, but literally, it used so much that it was just worn me downnnnnnnn. Every time I saw it say something about her feeling like the devil or the devil appearing or the killer being devil or just the world DEVIL, I wanted to throw my book and hands in the air.
Also, idk why, but we would have a normal passage that was good and dandy and then it would just get supremely and unnecessarily drastic and dramatic. It would just be a normal description and then be like “his eyes looked like they would devour me whole in the fiery depths of hell and dissect me like a cold dead body five days into rigor mortis.” I sent Sha so many pictures of these passages, because I was just completely thrown out of any ease and flow that I had built up in the novel. It was just a little too cheesy?? I struggled so much to make it through.
☠️ Also, the plot?? Honestly, I think this book was confused on what it needed to focus on. I know there was a lot to cover – it was a series finale, so there is so much! However, this book didn’t know which to focus on more – Audrey Rose and Thomas’s romance or the murders plaguing America and the mystery solving that accompanies it. This was a 450+ page book – there should have been more than enough time to focus on both and wrap everything up – however, the romance and yet another unnecessary and soap opera love life twist became the sole focus of this novel at times.
Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy Audrey Rose and Thomas as a couple. Thomas supports Audrey Rose in everything she does and really cares so much for her. I love how much he focuses on her independence and her empowerment as a woman, and he truly respects her boundaries, mind, body, and more. Honestly, perhaps a little too much? I mean, he legit met a person and literally the second thing he ever said to a person was along the lines of AUDREY ROSE IS A STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO DON’T NEED ANYBODY OR ANYTHING – HEAR HER ROAR and I was like yay Thomas, but also omfg, calm down, Thomas. But yes, I enjoy them as a couple – so, of course, I do want to see their romance culminate into a happily ever after in this book.
That being said, like, this book is a mystery?? I was sold on the mystery?? This series’ foundation is based on mystery, and intriguing and atmospheric murder mysteries from Jack the Ripper to vampires in castles to death at a boat carnival. Maniscalco has done mystery well before, and yet in this book, the mystery almost felt like it got lost in all the drama of the romance that came out of nowhere. I think it took 200 pages before the first clues were found – and they weren’t even found by Audrey Rose and Thomas but instead by his sister and her gf. I just wanted Audrey Rose and Thomas back to their crime solving goodness, and by the time that we got anywhere with this plot, I had already called the murderer the moment that they stepped out on the page and had already checked out of the story.
☠️ Also, like, I wasn’t as invested in this storyline??? Well, either of the storylines?? The mystery wasn’t as captivating as the first three, and I just wanted to fully immerse myself in it. And the second storyline regarding the romance? Oh, ugh, don’t get me starteddddddd. This is already 1000+ words, so I don’t have enough time to launch into this. I’ll just give the following paragraph to express my distress with it.
The biggest reason that I had an issue with the last book was the unnecessary love triangle that sprang out of nowhere. This story brought us yet another love triangle but instead for our dear Cresswell. I just…why did we have to have the drama yet again?? I get having some romantic tension, but I just…it just felt like I was back in my soap opera obsessed days with the scene out of the wedding straight out of General Hospital. All of the angst and back and forth and everything just seemed pointless to me at times, because we all know that Audrey Rose and Thomas aren’t going to end up any place else besides with each other. I just???
Side note: the angst was done pretty well, though, I will admit. It was moody and broody, but I kind of got down with it despite being fully exasperated that we were back there again.
☠️ Speaking of the romance, like, everything reverted back to sex and sexual tension?? It was literally overflowing with so much, and like, sure, have some solid sexual tension and notch up the natural chemistry that they have, but dear gosh, I didn’t need it every other paragraph?? Like, they were literally undressing each other with their eyes and making sexual references while at the crime scene of a horribly graphic and violent murder…in front of her uncle and other professionals. Like, like, like. I just.
☠️ Other things seemed to be conveniently fixed as well. Thomas’s sister and gf found the clues just in time. Characters from book 2 and 3 just happened to be in the same exact random city as Audrey Rose and Thomas. Grandmama just so happened to know the queen and be richer than richhhhhhhh.
☠️ The pacing was slow going. Since the plot was meandering between the romance and the mystery, it just kept going and going, and by the end, I was hardcore skimming.
☠️ Now! Let’s actually talk about some things I actually enjoyed. Maniscalco can do a setting so wonderfully. Each place they went – New York to Chicago – was given so much detail and atmosphere. I have loved being in each world that Maniscalco has created in this series and Chicago’s World Fair and the cold streets of New York were no exception. I certainly appreciate her appreciation of creating and developing a historical fiction and murder mystery that feels almost magic and super dark.
☠️ I also did love how feminist this book got in parts. Maniscalco paid attention to how anti-woman Victorian ideals were, and she made sure that Audrey Rose challenged them. Audrey Rose pointed out the issues that women faced, and honestly, some of them are ones that women face now. Thomas consistently showcased respect that woman should rightfully have from their mate and men in their world. Audrey Rose is also a pretty fierce heroine – she’s regaining her strength from a physical injury and grief, and she does kick some butt.
☠️ Cresswell is still quite entertaining. I do appreciate his wit.
I’m just going to wrap this up, since this is already 100 years long. I just…I wanted something different for this series finale, and I had hoped for something more like the first two books in the series where were a bit campy but fun, creepy, and atmospheric. While this book for sure brought the atmosphere, I struggled to enjoy this one.
rating: Merida because I mean…if I’m writing 1500 words for this review, I think it needs to be
representation: physically disabled MC, half Indian MC, lesbian side characters
content warnings: gore, physical violence, being drugged against will, kidnapping, murder, violence against women
read this if you: if you feel the need to finish this series and get closure
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!