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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
By Loren D Estleman, published by Titan Books
HAVING previously encountered the likes of Batman, Tarzan, Jack the Ripper, the Invisible Man and Fu Manchu across various media, it was surely only a matter of time before the Great Detective encountered the King of Vampires.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Estleman’s novel isn’t the only tale of a confrontation between Sherlock and Vlad, but as well as being the first, it’s also far from a straightforward clash. It has the distinction of being a retelling of Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel with the interesting addition of Holmes and Watson, whilst maintaining the continuity of the source material.
The arrival of Count Dracula in Victorian England is accompanied by a spate of murders which attract the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s signature creations, who head to Whitby to investigate, where they discover the undead wretch that is Lucy Westenra and are warned off by vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing.
Estleman deftly inserts his adventure in narrative gaps found in Stoker’s book, with Dracula clashing with Holmes at such times as he wasn’t dealing with the machinations of Van Helsing and his allies.
Purists may frown at the idea of the super-sleuth accepting the existence of vampires, but it’s handled with such aplomb that you soon forget this detail and become immersed in the story.
There’s plenty of action amidst the deductive reasoning, and although the conclusion of the book by necessity does not end in a battle to the death between the protagonists (in order that the Count might die beneath Quincey Morris’ blade at the novel’s climax) it is no less satisfying as a result.
Blending the styles of two different authors can’t be easy, but Estleman perfectly captures Doyle’s characters and prose while also doing justice to Stoker’s own work.
Fast-paced, fun and atmospheric, this is a worthy addition to the legacy of two of literature’s greatest characters.