Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Draculaby Steve Seitz
After Mina Murray asks Sherlock Holmes to locate her fiancee, Holmes and Watson travel to a land far eerier than the moors they had known when pursuing the Hound of the Baskervilles. The confrontation with Count Dracula threatens Holmes' health, his sanity, and his life. Will Holmes survive his battle with Count Dracula? See more details below
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After Mina Murray asks Sherlock Holmes to locate her fiancee, Holmes and Watson travel to a land far eerier than the moors they had known when pursuing the Hound of the Baskervilles. The confrontation with Count Dracula threatens Holmes' health, his sanity, and his life. Will Holmes survive his battle with Count Dracula?
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I don't know that any Holmes pastiche can be perfect. But some are just darn fun and original and this one is fun. And pretty well written. Mr. Seitz does a good job with Watson's voice. As it is with any American imitating the good doctor's language, you'll find a slip now and then - but Seitz does a convincing job. And sure, there are going to be holes - but there were in the originals, as well. The connection between Moriarty and the Count was definitely interesting. I think it is a fine first book from Mr. Seitz and I look forward to reading more from him.
This is, as advertised, a tale of Holmes and the plague carried by Count Dracula. It opens with Holmes being hired by Mina Murray to inquire into the whereabouts of her fiancée, Jonathan Harker. The events in this tale interconnect with those recounted by Bram Stoker in his classic book, ¿Dracula.¿ It concludes with the return from the dead of Holmes as recounted in ¿The Empty House.¿ Its action takes place over a period of time that includes the events of ¿Silver Blaze¿ and ¿The Final Problem¿ as well as the Great Hiatus.
For Sherlockians who adhere to the Great Detective¿s dictum, ¿Ghosts need not apply,¿ the book manages to be fully satisfactory. From time to time, uneasiness creeps in and one fears that a supernatural explanation will be invoked, however, it never happens. That is not to say that the Canon is not twisted a bit, here and there, or that Holmes and Watson cross every `t¿ and dot every `i.¿ There are loose ends and unexplained events, but then, these exist in life every day.
In reading the book, I found my greatest problem to be my own expectation of some descent into romanticism and vampire voodoo, as is so common in recent vampire tales. I fully expected Holmes to take up with a vampire Irene Adler and for the two of them to dance off into a Hollywood sunset to a Romberg tune. It simply doesn¿t happen. Holmes and Watson struggle with the events cited in `Dracula¿ as the Count allies with Professor Moriarty in a gigantic scheme to acquire a failing Banking firm and create a legitimate front to `launder¿ the illicit income of the Professor¿s empire.
The events as described are, within limits, reasonable and realistic. The explanations given for the vampire phenomena are plausible and entertaining and the actions described can be `shoehorned¿ into the Canon as it stands. The writing is well done and flows neatly, with no more than a few Americanisms as is common to most pastiches penned on this side of the Atlantic. At least it does not contain the hideous amalgam of post-WWII British usage and cockney slang found in some modern UK efforts.
I had been reluctant to try the book because of my fears of another vampire novel and I was very pleasently surprised that I did not get `good vampires¿ and `bad vampires¿ locked in a struggle to save/doom humanity. Instead, I got the Great Detective and the Good Doctor facing a very real and very serious situation using their wits and his genius to resolve it.
Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, October, 2008.
Sherlock Holmes pastiches simply do not get better than this. Stephen Seitz's 'Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula' manages not only to successfully present Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' as it might have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it also solves the mystery of what Holmes was really doing during the Great Hiatus. Not only that, while Seitz allows Dr. Watson not only to narrate much of the tale (Jonathan Harker and Dr. Seward also contribute to the narrative), he also allows Watson to actually be a doctor -- in fact, it is Watson's medical knowledge that provides a key element to the story. Yet Seitz also does justice to Stoker. As in the Stoker novel, while Count Dracula himself rarely appears, his presence pervades every page. Mina Harker is allowed, at last, to display her intelligence, as she was never allowed to do in 'Dracula'. Certainly, nowhere else will you have Dr. Watson and Dr. Seward collaborating an a possible case of vampirism in the heart of London, or Sherlock Holmes on the trail of the Bloofer Lady. The tale is told in the epistolary style of 'Dracula', is very well written and accurately researched. Only the most superficial of readers could deny that this is one terrific and entertaining book.
The book started out great but was very disappointing in the end. Dracula was a minor character and only has one brief encounter with Holmes and Watson in the story.
How to get my recommendation across... Well, I've been on a major addictive kick lately of Arthur Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories. When I read pastiches of beloved classic characters and worlds, I tend to be a pretty belligerent nit-picker, especially if I have the originals fresh in my mind. Ask anyone I've gotten into a discussion of fantasy literature with, where Robert E. Howard's Conan has come up. Well, while reading 'SHPoD,' after getting used to Steve Sietz's somewhat pared-down Watson voice 'a wise choice for the benefit of casual modern readers', I quickly felt like I was reading authentic Holmes and Watson, often close to forgetting entirely that I was reading someone's interpretation other than Doyle's. And Holmes and Watson are one of the most distinctive buddy-duos in the history of literature, oh so easy to try to imitate, or so easy to unintentionally parody. Mr. Sietz has got the dynamic down solid, and it's a credit to his use of research that he credibly creates some of those wonderful logic problems that ol' Sherlock breezes through leaving everyone else gaping a big ol' WTF? Too many other Holmes recreators try to smooth out the character's bristly edges, or exaggerate them to the point of revisionist indictment. Sietz jumps off directly from Doyle's characterization, runs with them faithfully, yet is able to portray them a bit more honestly and organically human than the proto-pulp conventions of Doyle's day usually permitted. It's nice to see Holmes and Watson just kicking back before the fit hits the shan and having a conversation like any two best friends, the problem on hand cropping up, but not an immediate concern. And it makes sense that the narrative voice wouldn't entirely match Doyle's... Rather than taking the form of an account Watson has written for the public, the chapters take the form of Watson's private diary 'and later, Dr. Seward's'. The original stories themselves acknowledged there were 'factual' discrepancies between what really happened and what 'Watson' has composited to tell us a good story. Here, we get quite a different version of Holmes's final confrontation with Prof. Moriarty, leading to some truly frightening plot twists that Watson would have had good reason to hide from the public. At the same time, the epistolary format helps it work nicely as a companion piece to Stoker's 'Dracula'. The Count himself only actually appears in one scene 'making the character primarily an ominous off-stage figure is a cue from Stoker, the value of which most imitators miss entirely', but it's one hell a freaky, cringe-inducing scene! After reading it, I shivered, took a long swig of beer, and said aloud to my empty apartment, 'CRAP! I think that was more Stoker than Stoker!' And off-stage or not, this Dracula is one scary, NASTY bastard! The only other Holmes-Dracula cross-over I've made it through more than a few pages of is Fred Saberhagen's... fun enough little read, but DAMN, I'm glad Steve went in the exact opposite direction. Presenting Dracula as Mr. Sad, Suffering, Romantic, Sympathetic Vampire ala Anne Rice is one thing 'and even hinted by Stoker, though I wonder if Stoker would have gone even further the opposite direction if he'd done more homework on the historical figure'. Francis Ford Coppola's version is still one of my all-time favorite flicks... But having Dracula say, 'No, you got me all wrong! I'm completely misunderstood!' is just... well... what's the point of him even being Dracula? Fleshing out Dracula as an anti-hero, I think, was for a while a natural pop-cultural response to the character. He's a dynamic, captivating fellow, that Count, an ultra-warped manifestation of the Leading Man 'Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman understood this best, I'd say', and people will want to romanticize that more than it ought to be because they don't want to feel too dirty for falling for their leading man. But let's not forget what great villain the guy really makes.
This book sucked harder than Dracula on a dry vein. It sounded promising but lacked cohesion and focus. An effort to incorporate too much from the Holmes and Dracula stories left it flat and lifeless. Just another feeble effort to cash in on some classic literary characters.