Maniscalco, Kerri. Hunting Prince Dracula. New York: Jimmy Patterson Books/Little, Brown & Company. ISBN-13: 978-0-316-55166-3. $18.99 USD.
After reading the first book in this series, I was charmed by the characters and intrigued by Maniscalco’s skill with crafting a great mystery. And the second installment surpasses the first, establishing a pattern of moving to new locations and looking into the lore of famous people and events, which, thus far, has allowed her to maintain originality and excitement in a genre that can sometimes become predictable after you’ve read a few of an author’s books.
As a review from Publishers Weekly noted of her first book, Maniscalco crafts a mystery with “abundant red herrings,” and while the culprit makes sense in retrospect, when you go back and analyze the evidence, you wonder how you didn’t see the obvious to begin with. And it is the same here, with her working with misdirection to keep you from suspecting who the actual killer is. And while I knew something was suspicious when I heard the surname of the person who turned out to be the killer, I admit I was fooled by the red herring Maniscalco delivered to rule them out, making the reveal a surprise.
The romance which was only a brief plot point in the first book is developed further, with Audrey dealing with her feelings for Thomas, amid the notes of their current situation and the lingering aftereffects of the events of the last book. It’s great to see a lot more character development of both Audrey and Thomas, as we see that Audrey isn’t as immune to the sight of the dead and blood as she was in the first, and this leads to some tension with her and Thomas.
I also enjoyed seeing two prominent supporting characters in an LGBTQ relationship, especially given the difficulties faced by gay people at the time. And despite my research into the series indicating that Audrey, Thomas, and Audrey’s uncle Jonathan will be the only consistent characters who play prominent roles in all installments, I hope we do hear more from them, even if it is only in passing.