What a fun read! I’m not a big time fan of Sherlock Holmes but my love for Dracula goes back to my early childhood in the 70s when I watched Creature Features on TV before discovering, via a Scholastic catalog, that “someone made a book out of Dracula” and I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in middle school.
Some years ago I purchased The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, published by Titan Books in 2012. Being the adherent to all things chronological, when the spirit moved me to finally read said book, I hesitated because I assumed this was a second book (the word “Further” being a primary clue) and that there must be a predecessor to read first.
A quick internet search revealed a 1978 novel by the same author titled simply, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula. I bought it. Read it. Enjoyed it.
This may come as a shock to you, Dear Reader, but I failed to do my due diligence. It was only after reading the lovely new/old 1970s mass market copy that I realized these two books are indeed the same text. There was a twinge of disappointment at not having a second tale with these characters in which to dive, but my second thought was one of book blogger blissfulness: I can do a giveaway!
More on that later. Now, about the book.
I think fans of either famous character will enjoy this novel. Loren Estleman does a great job at making the casual reader of Sherlock Holmes feel like they’re getting the real thing directly from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I suppose a hardcore member of the Baker Street Irregulars may find some faults, but that’s of no concern to me (as Holmes would condescendingly say).
In the Foreward, Estleman presents himself as the fictional editor of this volume who finds, at an estate sale, Watson’s lost notes of Holmes’ case involving Dracula. In the Preface, written by John H. Watson, M.D., the reader is “set straight” on why Sherlock Holmes’ contribution to the story of Dracula was left out by Bram Stoker. It’s because Professor Van Helsing,
“induced Stoker to deliberately falsify the facts where our line of investigation transected his, in order to build up his own reputation as a supernatural detective, and to invent entire episodes to explain the discrepancies” (19).
Ha! I love that even if it does offend me a bit because Van Helsing needed no such deception to bolster his reputation.
The action of the novel begins with a reporter seeking Holmes’ help in figuring out the mystery of the ship Demeter which arrives in Whitby after a storm with her dead captain tied to the ship’s wheel, a crucifix clutched in his hands. No souls are aboard. A big black dog jumps from the ship and disappears into the shadows. The only thing found in the hold is 50 boxes of dirt. Dracula fans will recognize that scene from Stoker’s novel.
The mystery that follows nicely inserts Holmes and Watson into the world of Stoker’s story and vice versa. Van Helsing, Mina Harker, Quincy Morris, and the gang make brief appearances, but this story is all about Holmes and Watson trying to stop Count Dracula. Many of Holmes’ previous cases and experiences are mentioned throughout and Estleman manages to stay true to the “facts” of Stoker’s novel as well.
There is some wonderful gothic atmosphere and jolly good humor. Of no concern to you, but of interest to me is the fact that this book helped me understand why my younger self didn’t enjoy Sherlock Holmes: he didn’t believe in the supernatural, which I, on the other hand, relished. In this novel, however, the great detective comes around. Holmes is also a smug, pompous ass, which is a turn-off, but the older me can at least appreciate that he gets the job done.
BBC Radio produced a dramatic reading of this novel in 1981 that you can listen to below.
Title: Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula: The Adventures of the Sanguinary Count
Author: Loren D. Estleman
Publisher: First published by Doubleday in 1978
Edition read: Penguin Books, 1979
Bottom line: A fun, fast read for fans of Dracula and/or Sherlock Holmes that stays true to the spirit of both Bram Stoker’s and Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and characters.
Simply leave a comment below stating whether you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan or a Dracula fan (or both) and I’ll use random.org to choose a winner next Wednesday, July 19th. The winner will receive the unread Titan Books edition. If your comment isn’t linked to a profile where I can contact you, please be sure to leave an email or social media link where I can contact you. Good luck!
About the Author
Loren Estleman’s work has won several Shamus Awards and his novels have also been nominated for both Anthony and Edgar Awards. He has published over 80 novels and dozens of short stories in the mystery and western genres. The banner on his website reflects this perfectly:
I’ve been a Sherlock fan since childhood (WGN in Chicago broadcast the SH movies in rep with Charlie Chan every Sunday). Watching the movies inspired me to check the books out of the library — I’ve read them and continuing stories many times since. Dracula came into my life, again after a move. I loved Frank Langella and Kate Nelligan in the movie version and quickly became a Bram Stoker and then vampire devotee. What a book collection I used to have in that genre! I even had a stuffed bear named Bram. I’m not usually a fan of “mash-ups”, but this does sound interesting!
Annette — I think I remember you telling me about your bear named Bram once upon a time. I’m also leery of mash-ups, but this one was done with good spirit. I think you’d enjoy it!
Well, with all due respect to the good detective, Dracula all the way!
Like you. I grew up watching Dracula movies before I realized there was a book. Nosferatu in particular was and still is my favorite.
But, this book intrigues me. What a nice giveaway!
Yes! I tried watching Nosferatu many moons ago, but don’t think I made it through. It’s been on my mind to try again — your saying it’s your favorite is encouraging. Bela Lugosi is my favorite. :)=
Congratulations, Laurie, you’ve won the giveaway! Please email me (C.L.Wolak @ gmail.com) your address and I’ll get it in the mail to you this week. Thanks for entering.
Oh boy!!! Will do.
Definitely a Sherlock Holmes fan ❤❤❤
I’d like to say both but I know that I’m more of a Sherlock Holmes fan. Sorry, Dracula. 😅
Kelcy — That’s why I’m using random.org to make sure there’s no discrimination against Sherlock fans. 😉 Thanks for entering!
Thanks for entering, Erika, and good luck! 🕵️♀️🕵️
I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan, have been since I was a kid, but my daughter just read Dracula this year and we spent some time discussing it. I think this might be one we could both enjoy.
That’s great! Have you read Dracula, Carol? I think you’d like it. Its a mystery novel at heart (especially if a reader can temporarily forget everything they know about Dracula/vampires).
This sounds like so much fun! I’ve only tread a few Holmes stories (though our son once carried a hardcover compendium of ALL Sherlock Holmes’ stories in his backpack through airports when he was young – that’s an avid reader!), but I just read the original Dracula last year – for Halloween! I really enjoyed it on audio.
Glad you enjoyed this cross-over!
2017 Big Book Summer Challenge
Your son is a trooper and a true fan! We have a hardcover compendium of Jane Austen’s novels, which seemed like a good idea when we bought it but it’s become more of a show piece than a reading copy. So happy to hear you enjoyed Dracula! :)=
I am more of a Sherlock fan, although I think Dracula was a HS read.
[…] you to the seven readers who entered the giveaway for Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula! I used random.org to pick a winner and the book goes to commenter number two . . . Laurie who […]