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: