The Dracula Dossierby James Reese
Author of the New York Times bestseller The Book of Shadows, James Reese returns with a remarkable feat of literary invention. In The Dracula Dossier, Reese combines real historical figures and events—Bram Stoker, Walt Whitman, Jack the Ripper—with glorious speculation in a tour de force of suspense fiction that races non-stop/i>/i>/i>… See more details below
Author of the New York Times bestseller The Book of Shadows, James Reese returns with a remarkable feat of literary invention. In The Dracula Dossier, Reese combines real historical figures and events—Bram Stoker, Walt Whitman, Jack the Ripper—with glorious speculation in a tour de force of suspense fiction that races non-stop through Victorian London. Bestselling author Michael Connelly raves about The Dracula Dossier, calling it, “a damn good thriller…that had me mesmerized from chapter one.”
In Reese's scrupulously imagined thriller, told largely through entries from a lost journal kept by the author of Dracula in 1888, Bram Stoker attends an indoctrination ceremony of the Order of the Golden Dawn, at the behest of Oscar Wilde's mum and a young William Butler Yeats. The ceremony goes horribly awry, resulting in one participant-Francis Tumblety, a patent medicine salesman newly arrived from America-becoming a vessel for the evil Egyptian god Set and applying his surgical skills to the slaughter of Whitechapel prostitutes in order to draw Stoker out for a supernatural showdown. Bestseller Reese (The Witchery) so perfectly pastiches the journal format that initially his story reads as dry and boringly as most private diaries. With Tumblety's malignant conversion, though, the novel turns into a rip-roaring penny dreadful that compels reading to the end. Dracula fans will appreciate the nods to well-known works that Stoker wrote supposedly following this confrontation. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A package arrives at the desk of a young editor at a New York publishing house, purporting to be a collection of letters and journal entries belonging to Bram Stoker. The anonymous sender refers to it as the "Dracula Dossier." The papers disclose a series of events in Stoker's life that occurred when he worked for Irish theater-actor Henry Irving in 1888 and before he wrote his famous novel. The prolog promises a riveting tale of suspense, even horror, and there are moments of tension and fear, but for the most part the novel is dull and tedious. Readers familiar with the Dracula story will realize that Stoker is meeting people and having experiences that directly influenced his best-known work (Jack the Ripper plays a part). An interesting plot lurks somewhere within this story. Too bad Reese (The Witchery; The Book of Spirits; The Book of Shadows ) could not bring it to fruition. Not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/08.]-Patricia Altner, BiblioInfo.com, Columbia, MD
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The Dracula Dossier
A Novel of Suspense
By James Reese
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Bram Stoker's Journal
Monday, 12 March 1888.—Out on the streets, it seemed wise to hide the bloodied knife.
I'd preserved that much sense; but just why I'd brought the knife with me, I cannot say. Better to have left it back in the hotel, or to have hidden it in the theatre where last we'd used it. But no, here it was in hand, and reddened, and yes, rather hard to hide: the convex blade bends eight steely inches to its tip, and the hilt is carved in the Nepalese style. Once seen, this knife is not to be forgotten.
The hilt protruded from my pocket. I tried to hide it in the hollow of my ruined hand. The blade-tip itself pushed through the pocket's bottom, like a spring shoot eager for the end of this Manhattan winter, the worst in living memory. And so it must have seemed, as I stumbled down Fifth Avenue in the snow, that I would draw the knife, put its blade to purpose on some passerby; but no, no indeed.
Mad? Maybe I was. But the only knives I have known heretofore are of that spring-loaded species common to the stage. The kind that give upon contact with actorly flesh, the bashful blade retracting to conceal itself in the hilt. But this knife, my knife, is another type entirely; for Henry will not hear of props upon the stage. Reality is all,says he; and his Shylock, when nightly he begs his rightful pound of flesh from Antonio, lays a real blade, lays this blade upon his bared chest. Yes: Reality is all.
That: a pound of flesh, as scripted by the bard. This: a gallon of my own gore.
Had the knife sought the All of Me, sought to set the All of Me to running red? Had I sought it myself? No knife knows a will of its own; . . . but can a hand act of its own accord? I ask because, if not . . . Alas, I dare not write the word begged by so rash an act. I shall leave its sinful S steaming, unspoken, upon my tongue. I shall not trade ink for blood and name the act here. No. But the blood, yes, all the eager blood, drip drip dripping through the mean tourniquet I'd tied, dripping down to the knife's tip to drip drip drip onto the new-fallen snow of Fifth Avenue: a red trail to betray my wandering way, to betray me as my own hand had a half-hour earlier.
No more scratch now. Let this suffice. My left and penless hand throbs in sympathy with this, my ruined right; and so I close. The blade I have scrubbed of its blood, but the body knows no such ready repair. Nor does the soul. And so what can I do but embrace this pain as my penance?
Whatever did I mean to do? And what will become of me now?
Letter, Bram Stoker to Hall Caine
19 March 1888
My Dearest Hommy-Beg,
I've much to apprise you of, old friend, as Life's pendulum has swung of late to the bad; for damned I am if the Black Hounds are not hot upon my heels.
I write whilst training to West Point with all the Company,and whilst profiting from the peace afforded me by the Guv'nor's shunning me at present.As the Lyceum herd follows his lead, I am spared having to see to their manifold needs as well. Though of course it fell to yours truly to arrange this 8 a.m. special from Madison Square on which we—players, scenery, costumery, &c.—chug toward the military academy. And no mean feat that, may I say, as still New York, as still all the eastern seaboard sits snowbound. Indeed, so desperate is the citizenry to locomote that some stand at the side of these very rails on which we ride, hailing our train as if it were a hansom cab.
Of course, from the aforementioned herd I exempt dearest Ellen.It is she alone with whom I share this car, hence the rare peace I reference; for E.T. sits staring out over the snowscape, lost to the present save when she slips a treat into the mouth of her Drummie, the treasured terrier upon her lap. A sidelong glance at her impossibly fine profile tells me she "rehearses" at present: no doubt it is Portia she plays within, as it is The Merchant of Venice we will play tonight for the assembled cadets.
Alas, though I need not describe to you, Caine, those dank cellars to which the mind and soul do sometimes descend—you've suffered so long your own mullygrubs and glooms—I shall address a few particulars of my own descent. Catharsis, may I call it? Confession? Regardless, I must begin by begging your pardon for the fearful state of this letter. On tour I have even less time to myself than in London, and if I set this letter aside till such time as I can make a fair copy, well, it would be many more days till you heard from your old friend Stoker. So I shall post this in time, saying now do not mind the stains.Yes, they are bloodstains. And yes, it is my blood, accidentally shed. So I hope. And so I'd pray, if prayer availed me still.
Surely I must beg pardon, too, of my penmanship. The train knocks this nib about, yes, but this scribble is more attributable to the mummified state of my left hand. It is bandaged and cross-bound from forearm to fingertip. The thumb is splinted so as to help its nearly-severed tendon heal. My four fingers stick out from the white swaddling like spring shoots from snow. And my right hand, my writing hand, seems to suffer in sympathy; hence this horrid scrawl.
The blood, yes; quite a flow came. And I am quite lucky to—
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