“On a ship filled with devilish debauchery, hope seemed to be the deadliest sin of them all.”
I am weirdly conflicted about what to say about this book. On one hand, I read it in under 24 hours which is something I never do so that is obvious evidence that I was into it. On the other hand, it did have some problems that I think the first two books neatly avoided.
This third book in the series has Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell on board a ship bound for their next case in America. When bodies start dropping, and in a rather dramatic fashion, the duo does what they do best and begins attempting to solve the mystery.
So one thing that I did like about this story over the first two was that it was more of a “closed room mystery” (well, closed ship…) whodunit kind of story which I adore. The murderer can’t possibly escape until the ship docks in New York in a week and so there is that much time to compile clues and pinpoint the murderer which just adds to the excitement for me.
Unfortunately, this story did come with the baggage that is Mephistopheles, the ringmaster of a group of travelling performers hired to perform for the guests onboard the RMS Etruria. In so many ways, from his mannerisms and flirtations and cockiness, he felt like a more dramatic version of Thomas for almost the entire book. I think because of this, or maybe just because of my distaste for love triangles, I never felt any real chemistry between him and Audrey Rose. He just annoyed me and so she annoyed me when she started falling for his crap.
It is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine too when one story sets up a couple and sees them get together and then future books have to test that by throwing in another love interest. It’s just so overdone and it was something that I liked about Hunting Prince Dracula that it didn’t do this. It tested their relationship but in a way that was exploring what Audrey Rose was okay with and when she wanted to stand on her own, it was about finding harmony between her desire to be free and his desire to take care of her.
Honestly though, probably the thing that bugged me the most in this book was the ignoring of evidence from very early crimes until late in the story. Maybe it was just me, but some of the clues seemed so freaking obvious and I wanted someone to talk about it!
Overall, I think it all comes down to expectations. (Okay, tl;dr: I expected each of these books to suck so everything they do right shines through for me. There I said it!)
When I first read Stalking Jack the Ripper a few months ago, I went into it as a guilty pleasure kind of read. It isn’t the sort of thing I normally read and I thought it was going to be cheesy and tropey but I went ahead with it because that was what I was in the mood for at the time.
And the first two books were much less tropey than I thought they would be. Still kinda cheesy but it was okay because I adored these characters and the message of female empowerment. It was still a bit of a guilty pleasure read but one that I ended up intensely liking.
So with Escaping from Houdini that was exactly what I was going into: characters that I enjoyed reading about, a love story that I can get fully behind, and just pure escapism. That said, Houdini does come with some tropes that I had been pleasantly surprised that the first two books neatly avoided. Namely a love triangle and a MC that makes less than intelligent decisions because emotions.
Again, even though I was annoyed by these things, it didn’t stop me from flying through this book in less than a day. And I am not the sort of reader to power through books that I am not enjoying that quickly.
Apart from the ignoring of evidence, this mystery was actually really well crafted I thought and I might like that part of it better than the first two books.