Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)

Kerri Maniscalco

For Grandma,

Who always loved a good whodunit


The book you’re holding in your hands represents a lot of firsts.

It’s the first acquisition that I am publishing under my new imprint for young readers, JIMMY Patterson Books.

It’s the first young adult novel I chose, thanks to its fresh and compelling take on the ever-fascinating Ripper mystery.

It is author Kerri Maniscalco’s first novel.

And it was when I read her very first line that I knew I was going to love this book.

Kerri’s clever, vibrant voice and unerring grasp of suspense and emotion came through right from those opening words. Stalking Jack the Ripper is an atmospheric tale full of chilling twists and unsettling turns, and I assure you it more than lives up to the promise of that mesmerizing first sentence. It may be set in Victorian-era London, but you’ll find the brilliant and impassioned Audrey Rose to be inspiringly modern, even by our standards.

Part of our mission at JIMMY Patterson is to create books that young readers will finish and then immediately say, “Please give me another book.” I have no doubt that Stalking Jack the Ripper will be the first of our offerings to fulfill that mission, but it certainly won’t be the last.

—James Patterson

“It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood.”



J. M. Beattie, Post-Mortem Methods, 1915





30 AUGUST 1888

I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had showed me.

Getting the preliminary incision correct was imperative.

I took my time eyeing the placement of metal upon skin, ensuring proper angling for the cleanest cut. I felt Uncle hovering behind me, studying my every move, but had my view set entirely on the blade in my hand.

Without hesitation, I dragged the scalpel from one shoulder to the sternum, taking pains to push as deeply as I could. My brows raised a fraction before I schooled my face into an unreadable mask. Human flesh flayed much easier than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t much different from cutting into a pork loin prior to its roasting, a thought that should have been more disturbing than it was.

A sickeningly sweet smell wafted from the incision I’d made. This cadaver wasn’t as fresh as others. I had a sneaking suspicion not all our subjects were obtained through proper legal or voluntary measures and was regretting waving away Uncle’s earlier offer of a breathing apparatus.

Foggy wisps of breath escaped my lips, but I refused to give in to building shivers. I stepped back, my slippers lightly crunching sawdust, and examined my work.

Blood barely seeped up from the wound. It was too thick and dead to flow crimson, and too foreign to be truly frightening. Had the man been dead less than thirty-six hours, it might’ve spilled onto the table then onto the floor, saturating the sawdust. I wiped the blade on my apron, leaving an inky streak in its wake.

It was a fine incision indeed.

I readied myself for the next cut, but Uncle held a hand in the air, stalling my movement. I bit my lip, despising myself for forgetting a step from his lesson so soon.

Uncle’s ongoing feud with Father—neither one claimed to remember its origin, but I recall it well enough—had him wavering on continuing my apprenticeship. Proving myself incapable would not help my case, especially if I hoped to attend school the next morning.

“One moment, Audrey Rose,” he said, plucking the soiled blade from my fingers.

A sharp scent sprung into the air, mixing with the stench of decaying organs as Uncle uncorked a bottle of clear liquid and splashed it onto a cloth. Antiseptic was pervasive in his basement laboratory and amongst his blades. I should’ve remembered to wipe the other one down.

I would not make the same mistake again.

I glanced about the basement, where several other bodies were lined up along the wall, their pale limbs stiff as snow-covered branches. We were going to be here all night if I didn’t hurry, and Father, the all-important Lord Edmund Wadsworth, would send for Scotland Yard if I wasn’t home soon.

Given his station, he’d probably have a small army out patrolling for me.

Uncle recorked the bottle of carbolic acid, then handed me another scalpel resembling a long, thin dinner knife. Its edge was much sharper than the last blade’s was. Using the sterilized tool, I mimicked the same incision on the opposite shoulder, then made my way down to the deceased’s navel, stopping just above his belly button.

Uncle hadn’t warned me how hard it would be, cutting down to the rib cage. I stole a glance at him, but his gaze was fixed hungrily on the corpse.

At times the darkness in his eyes terrified me more than the dead we butchered.

“You’ll need to crack the ribs open before reaching the heart.”

I could tell Uncle was having a difficult time restraining himself from doing the deed. Corpses kept him company most nights, like intriguing textbooks; he cherished dissecting them and discovering the secrets held between the pages of their skin and bones. Before obsession could override his lesson, I quickly broke the rib cage apart, exposing the heart and the rest of the viscera.

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